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Banned Books: Start Leaning In

I'm going to pretend it hasn't been a year and three months since my last post.

Like many of you, I've spent a large part of March 2020 - the present day trying to make sense of the world around me. Points of contention boiling up in our current culture bubble over into divisions too varied and complex to enumerate here. And I'm not going to lie - I'm gun-shy about getting into discussions about hot topics. Temperatures (at least in my area) are high, and we're all doing a lot more talking than we are listening.

But when questions surrounding banning books started popping up in my local school district, I wanted to engage. I saw concerns emerge on Facebook (shocking, right?) about a text that the school board recently approved. I watched as "concerns" quickly morphed into a call to ban the book from the curriculum altogether. Having read the book (All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brenden Kiely), I understood the reasons for concern but felt like the value of the book, it's plot, and it's place in a classroom far outweighed the drawbacks.

So what do you do when a large portion of your community is screaming to ban a book?

I have no idea.

But I do know that I can't disengage and do nothing. That perpetuates the problem instead of solving it. Keeping the peace is different than making peace. So here is what I'm actually going to do.

Over the next few weeks of posts, I want to facilitate conversation - civil conversation guided by fact and focused on learning. I want to lean into the discomfort I feel with viewpoints that oppose my own. I want to share the understanding I've gained from loads of reading. And I hope equip those of you on the frontlines - teachers and parents - with tools to thoughtfully, fairly analyze text that stir up something in you. I want to hear your questions, your ideas, and your struggles too because, if I'm honest, I have a couple sticking points in this debate as well.

So consider that your invitation. I'm hoping you'll follow along and that you'll share. I'm also hoping that you'll start having some of these hard discussions on your own and begin leaning in to the tough stuff.


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