Banned books


I ran across this story the other day and kept the tab open and I continued to revisit it, learning more each time. It originated from the Readers’ Digest site.

These Are the Books That Were Banned the Decade You Were Born

Growing up, books and reading were big around our house. Every Saturday morning, my mother took my brother and me to the town library to get books to last for the upcoming week.

I can remember being fascinated by the reference section but, of course, we couldn’t book those out so we eventually moved to the area that was age-appropriate. I can also remember being hooked on Hardy Boy books and read them all. At the time, these were very popular and it wasn’t uncommon that the next book in the series was not available.

Those were shelved in a particular section of the library and we were given free range of it. There also was an adult section that we were told that we couldn’t go in to. Now, for a child of that age, you can imagine the curiosity that that inspired.

The neat thing about the library was that, as long as we stayed in our area, we could check out any book that we wanted. Seemingly, there were no restrictions at all. I can recall basically trying out books by various authors and there were some I liked and some I didn’t. It never dawned on me that, other than by age, there were other factors at work determining what was available and what wasn’t.

School was a different beast. For me, the difference between school and the public library was big. At school, we were told what we had to read; at the library we were less restricted.

I enjoyed working through the article identifying books that I had read, mostly at school but some for recreation or to meet some English class quota. Later on, the selections were just reading for fun. Titles that come back to mind over the decades from this article include:

  • The Wizard of Oz
  • 1984
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Sun Also Rises
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • Catch-22
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Of Mice and Men
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Lord of the Rings
  • The Hunger Games

To be honest, the concept of banned or challenged books really was foreign to me. I never appreciated that there were big forces at work ensuring we had access to these books. Speaking of foreign, I recognize that the original article originated from south of the border. So, I went looking for a similar listing of Canadian works and found this.

Challenged Works

I know that, having worked with Teacher-Librarians over the years, all of the research and energy that they put into making sure that their collections serve students in their learning community. I also know that preferences can vary from school to school.

But, for this moment in time, it was just a nice look back and think about the reading done in my past.

I did get a book for this Christmas and it sits just to the right of me. I’m glad that my mother instilled a love of reading in me although I don’t think that she could have foreseen that it has changed over the years to include so much online.

And yet, there’s just something about holding a book.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday everyone. And, it’s a 13th too. And a full moon to boot. Actually a “micro” Harvest Moon. In football, we call it “piling on”. Read about it here.

But you can tough it out.

Grab a coffee and sit back to enjoy some posts from these fabulous Ontario Edubloggers.


Minding the Children

OK, I’ll confess to be guilty of doing this.

Sharing memes in June about sending kids back to their parents or in late September about parents shipping kids back to school.

In this post, Sheila Stewart suggests that doing so is not the best of ideas.

I am also not sure if such humour does much to support working relationships and respect between teachers and parents.

I guess I never saw it much more than a bit of fun poking at our profession. I’ve never really thought of them as serious; more of a look at reality in the school year.


This Blog is not Dead it’s…

I guess I breathed a bit of a sigh of relief when Jennifer Aston indicated that she hadn’t abandoned things – she was just carrying through on promises to a family about not doing school work in July.

I don’t think it’s an unfair demand; after all, kids deserve family time which can be so difficult to find during the school year between working, after school professional learning, coaching, and so much more. Why not demand a little mom time during the summer.

I’m not surprised that many of her activities mirrored what my summers were like when my kids were younger – going to the beach, going to swimming lessons, potty training, but I drew the line at soccer. My kids were baseball/softball players! (Still are)

Read the post; many bloggers would have made this into a number of smaller posts but Jennifer throws her entire summer at us.

And, she’s promising to get back on the blogging scene again. Great!


L’ADN d’un leader

This is an interesting post from Joel McLean, again about leadership.

He talks about the DNA of a leader and ties in the 17 basic abilities identified by John Maxwell.

From the 17, Joel identifies three specifically and expands on them.

  • Ability to think
  • Creativity ability
  • Production capacity

The call to action is to question yourself, if you see yourself as a leader, about how you would increase these abilities.

I’m curious though about his use of the term DNA. To me, DNA is part of your make up and not something that you can change. (I watch a lot of Law & Order). To me, it begs the question. If these skills are truly DNA, can you actually change them? Maybe an idea for a future post, Joel?

With a little tongue in cheek, maybe blood tests replace interviews?


Exploring Classroom Expectations while using WipeBook Chart Paper

Congratulations to Joe Archer…he entered a contest and won a WipeBook Flipchart. It’s part of a series of products you can find here. http://www.wipebook.ca.

Joe talks about the product, but more importantly, talks about how he uses it with his class. For me, it’s the description of the pedagogy that is exciting.

At times, and for selfish purposes, that can be overlooked when people go product bashing.

I can’t help but think about the high profile keynote speakers a few years ago who went on a rant a few years about about Interactive Whiteboards. Like anything in the classroom, they can be used well or poorly. It’s not the product itself; it’s how it’s used. “Oh, and buy my book.”

I remember years ago in my planner having a write-on cleanable whiteboard page along with the traditional paper. In my mind, the paper was good for notes that I thought would be “permanent” whereas the erasable product was more transient in how I used it. My use mirrors somewhat the classroom activity that Joe describes.

I also like the fact that Joe uses the expression “Exploring”. It conveys a message that he’s doing his own research into the product and not just following the crowd.


A Career Marked by Change: Learning the Big Lessons in Some Small Places

Debbie Donsky takes on a new role this September and uses her blog to reflect on a career – so far anyway…

I’ll confess that I was expecting something different from her title when she made reference to “small places”. I had thought that she’d be referring to the small communities that school can be in the middle of big towns or cities. But, I was wrong.

Instead, she takes the opportunity to identify 15 Big Lessons and develops each along with a picture or two.

I could identify with most of the 15 but there were three that really resonated.

  • Be where you are – reminded me of my first trips to schools as a consultant – none of them are the same and you are most effective when you recognize that
  • Be authentic – especially with kids – they have a sixth sense when you’re faking it
  • Everyone you meet can help you – and reciprocate! Together we’re better

For more Debbie Donsky, read my interview with her here.


Goodnight, World

This is the latest review of a book from the CanLit for Little Canadians blog authored by Helen Kubiw.

I’m always astounded when I talk to Language teachers or Teacher-Librarians as to how connected and insightful they are with new books or ones that have been around for a while.

The latest reviews include:

  • Goodnight, World
  • The Starlight Claim
  • Harvey Comes Home
  • Spin

Violence in Ontario Schools

There have been a number of articles released in the traditional media about a report identifying the grown of violence in Ontario schools. Sadly, the articles are not very deep except to report their sources. Then, they move on.

On the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Deborah Weston takes a really deep dive on this. Not only does she identify the research but she shares her insights about the issue.

She notes that there are no quick and easy solutions. In particular, she addresses a couple of the techniques often given as solutions to the problem.

Self-regulation and mindfulness strategies do help some students develop their social and emotional capacity but self-regulation and mindfulness strategies do not compensate for the myriad of causes and complex intersectionality of environmental, developmental, intellectual, social, emotional, economic, and mental health needs that may be at the root of students’ behavioural outcomes.

I would encourage all teachers to read this and look at the implications. I would also suggest that the worst thing that you could do is to ignore incidents. They need to be reported so that they can be addressed, not just in your classroom, but Ontario’s school system at large.


Like any Friday, there are always wonderful thoughts and ideas shared by Ontario Educators. Please take the time to read all seven of these terrific blog posts. You’ll be glad you did.

Then, make sure that you’re following these bloggers on Twitter.

  • @sheilaspeaking
  • @mme_aston
  • @jprofNB
  • @ArcherJoe
  • @DebbieDonsky
  • @HelenKubiw
  • @dr_weston_PhD

This post originally appeared on this blog:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

Riveting reading


Often, you see parents who are trying to entertain children while in waiting rooms hand their smartphones to the child and let them play with it. What if there was something that would engage and, at the same time, educate?

There is with Rivet: Better Reading Practice.

How about access to over 2000 appropriate books? That’s what you get with this application.

I did a quick install to take a look at things and was so impressed.

The graphics in the stories are very well done and clicking on words are helpful for getting through those tough words!

The Google Play store lists these features…

– 2,000+ free, leveled children’s books
– 8 reading levels to grow with your reader
– Engaging, kid-friendly interface
– Tap on tricky words for help
– Rate, review, and save favorite books
– Browse categories or search by keyword
– Read books from your favorite YouTube creators
– Track reading practice
– Listening allows kids to practice reading out loud 
– Earn badges and rewards by achieving milestones
– Choose one of our 8 fun avatars
– Personalized book recommendations

And, teachers, for use in the classroom? Check out the Educators page.

But my students don’t all have smartphones? I installed it here on my Chromebook and it works like a champ. Actually, it uses the entire screen better than many of the Android applications that I have installed.

If you’re in the market for an additional source of reading, check this out. You’re one download away from expanding your library.

And popping those balloons are fun too!