Banned Books Week: Virtual Read-Out, Bulletin Boards, Reading Signs, Oh my!


Banned Books Week is coming September 27th-October 3rd!

What to do . . . What to do . . . What to do . . .

NCTE’s Virtual Read-Out – An option for independent reading assessment or a book-talk resource

Here’ are the criteria and options for a virtual read-out, as per

You have four video options for the 2013 Banned Books Virtual Read-Out:

1) You can submit a video no more than 3 minutes long of a reading from a banned or challenged book. The video should include information on where and why the book was banned or challenged. You may also add a comment about why you believe the book is important. Please keep your remarks brief.

Here is a list of banned literary classics as well as a list of frequently challenged books throughout the years. You should also check out Mapping Censorship and Robert P. Doyle’s Banned Books: Challenging Our Freedom to Read for more ideas. Banned Books: Challenging our Freedom to Read is available for purchase at the ALA Store or can be found at your local public library.

2) Choose a favorite banned/challenged book and discuss what the book meant to you and how you would feel if someone prevented you from reading it. The video should be no longer than three minutes long

3) A video of an eyewitness account of local challenges can be submitted. This video should be no longer than three minutes long.

4) Create a promotional video for Banned Books Week like the videos featured here. The video should be no longer than five minutes long. The video’s message should focus on celebrating the freedom to read during Banned Books Week.

This information is also available here (the link also explains how to submit a video, which is important).

Using the Virtual Read-Out in the classroom:

  • Independent Reading Assessment (for the quiz or homework/classwork category)

You can complete and submit these videos any time of year, so, for example, if you made a “banned books” a theme for independent reading, it could be some kind of assessment grade or an option students could choose for assessment (under these criteria, it would have to be in the quiz or homework/classwork category) that still assesses, to some extent, whether or not they read the book and allows students to contribute to a larger reading community.  Or, if a student reads a banned book anytime throughout the year, this could be a form of assessment.  I think 2 and 4 could be independent-reading assessments, whereas option 1 could be a pre or during-reading assignment.

  • A pseudo-book talk

Of course, you could also do this (to show them or model a “book talk” of sorts” or your class could create one together if you read a whole-class novel that is on the banned books list.  A third option, if you read a banned book as a whole-class novel, would be to have students work individually or in pairs and “compete” for best video. The winners could have their videos uploaded to the site.  

  • A resource

This link will take you to youtube videos others have created.  These could serve as book talks you show your kids either as models OR to get them interested in reading those books!  It could also be a great foray into a discussion about censorship. 

Banned Book Bulletin Boards – Want help putting one together? Let me know!

Banned books can make a great bulletin board theme or even a “display” for the top of your classroom-library bookshelf.

Here are some ideas (click the image to see it larger):

This bulletin board has “wrapped books” with descriptions of why it was challenged on the outside.  I think it would definitely draw in student interest and later in the year or throughout the year, you could reveal the books.

banned book bulletin board

This one has book covers and titles, and I don’t know what’s “inside” the book cover, but putting descriptions of the book or reasons why it was challenged would be great!


I’ve seen pictures like these compiled on a bulletin board that says “Busted for Reading Banned Books.”  You could have students pose with banned/challenged books (like The Outsiders) that they’ve already read and/or add to it throughout the year as students pick banned books for independent reading.

bbbulletinboard idea

This one has “Wanted” signs similar to the image above along with covers of banned books.  The fire and crime scene tape definitely make my English-nerd heart skip a beat:


This is probably the easiest of the Banned Book Bulletin Boards to execute.  You would just need to print some book covers and get some caution tape . . . and bam! Rad bulletin board:


Literacy Promotion through Reading Signs

Those plastic things outside your door are for more than decoration or common-time availability! They are the place where we advertise what we’re reading so that students can see that their teachers read too. (If you need a plastic sign-holder, let Marcie know!)

There is a banned book themed reading promotion sign that you can personalize to your favorite banned books (and with your name) in the District Shared Directory – English – Reading Signs & Templates. Here’s a list of banned books to help you along the way!

And I created a new, more generic one that might work for you too (it’s on the shared directory in full size and resolution).  I tried to use titles we teach, have in our classroom libraries, or offer as summer reading.

Banned Books poster

Additional resources:

book challenges by reason

Music & Literature Resource

Hey all.

literaryjukebox_logo, which I recommend for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is because Maria Popova describes her site as “a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness” has a great page called “literary jukebox.”  It’s a “side project” Popova does in which she picks a great literary quote and matches it thematically with a song (you can play the song on the site).

I love this because it’s fun (nerd alert) and because it might be an awesome mini-activity, warm-up, closure, or home work assignment when students are reading anything in class.  🙂

You could even great a bulletin board jukebox (or Ipod), where you could keep track of your book-long, marking-period-long, or year-long jukebox selections.


A Work of Artifice and a Poet-Tree, Day 2 of NPM

A Work of Artifice by Marge Piercy

The bonsai tree
in the attractive pot
could have grown eighty feet tall
on the side of a mountain
till split by lightning.
But a gardener
carefully pruned it.
It is nine inches high.
Every day as he
whittles back the branches
the gardener croons,
It is your nature
to be small and cozy,
domestic and weak;
how lucky, little tree,
to have a pot to grow in.
With living creatures
one must begin very early
to dwarf their growth:
the bound feet,
the crippled brain,
the hair in curlers,
the hands you
love to touch.

This would work great with a discussion or unit on metaphor, women’s roles/women’s rights, possibility, obstacles (What keeps people from achieving __?), and even more.  A great little poem!


Here’s an April bulletin board idea to go with today’s poem:

poet tree

This is from a first-grade classroom, but it’s easily upgraded for use in our classrooms.  On the “leaves,” students could write their favorite poem/poet, they could write their favorite line of poetry studied in class, write original poems for the tree, or, as a class, you could keep track of all the poets studied this year!  Lots of possibilities. 🙂