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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Banned Books Week - Book Club Fights Back!

Today Book Club and I, and one of the staff, Faye, filmed readings from banned or challenged books. Dylan wanted a copy of his file so he could put it on YouTube, but otherwise the understanding was that the readings would go on to a DVD which will only be used at school. Of course, all my readers will get a copy of the DVD and hopefully I can show it to staff at a meeting.

The project was a huge success! I have never seen my students so excited about anything. I am not sure how I could have done this with kids who don't like reading, but I'll think of something. Meanwhile, they looked at a list I had prepared, of books, some of them classics, that have been challenged or banned over the years. I only chose some that we probably had in the library so that they were available to be read immediately. They read the list, exclaimed in amazement - "They BANNED Harry Potter?" - and sat down to work out what they should choose. I had readings from Harry Potter, Vampire Academy, Twilight, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Hunger Games, Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider novel Snakehead and, from Faye, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. That one is being studied by our Year 10 students, who love it. Faye didn't want her face to be seen("I'm too ugly today!") so Dylan had to film her with her face behind the book. She said she thought she knew which bit had probably caused the ban and made sure that was the part she read.

We even had a Year 7 student who said,"How wonderful!" and joined in. My Year 8 student Robert went to his locker to fetch a Robert Harris book, which was well-loved, judging by its battered state. I didn't hear his reading as I had to go check out a library book, but I overheard someone say "My God, no wonder it was banned!" Well, I'm not his mother and she is okay with it, as far as I know.

Dylan took over the filming, only stopping to get Selena to film him reading from Harry Potter And The Half-blood Prince. Selena was halfway through her reading of Snakehead(she read the entire Alex Rider series, followed by  Charlie Higson's Young James Bond and Gabrielle Lord's Conspiracy 365 series... For such a mild-mannered young woman, she is amazingly keen on action-adventure!) when the camera battery ran out and we had to recharge it. There were three more readings to do at that stage and while Dylan, Selena and Ryan were going to be there, Kristen had to go to her Foods class, so I promised to come and fetch her when the camera was running again. In the event, she changed her mind, as she was not feeling well and had substantial work to do in class, so I did a reading instead, from Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets. I am sure I can film her early next term if she's up to it, because nothing is actually  going on YouTube except Dylan's file and maybe mine; these holidays I will edit it in iMovie and I can simply add a scene for her before I finish and burn it to DVD. Thando was reading while I was off in Kristen's class, so I have no idea what she read, but it should be a nice surprise. Paige may not have been at school today and will perhaps want to add to the film when she returns; I can film her if/when I do Kristen.

 Taylor made a mistake and stopped, waving her arms in frustration; I might keep those bits for a blooper reel. Brittany, like Faye, read with the book held up to cover her face, while her little brother Braydon, a true camera ham, read with his face showing, of course.

After the holidays, the first Book Club event will be an opening screening of what Dylan wants to call "Book Club Fights Back". He suggested we have a group scene with all the readers giving the finger to censorship. Perhaps, if time, but not on YouTube, I'm afraid - I'm not allowed!

This is one of my National Year of Reading events. It's nice to be able to do something, even after my budget has run out, and I am very lucky to have such wonderful young men and women in my class and my library.


miki said...

It must be really motivating for you to see them so enthousiast^^

they can be proud of them really

Sue Bursztynski said...

Yes, it's wonderful! I came to work tired after a late night helping with the school concert, found some disasters that had happened while I was working on the show... And then I watched my young men and women chattering excitedly and running with something I had suggested, and laughed with them and I felt exhilarated; my tiredness dropped away.