For Cedar Falls schools, emphasis is on how to read, not what to read

Believe it or not, the Bible is banned in some places. Now this seems extreme to some people, but others think it’s a reasonable choice. 

Cedar Falls Schools actually do the opposite and try to put the spotlight on diversity in all books. Stephanie Itzen, the Holmes Junior High media specialist, said, “My favorite banned book would probably be To Kill A Mocking Bird. It takes place in the south about 75 years ago, and it’s about the story of a black man who’s wrongly accused of sexual assault on a white woman. A lawyer with two children decided to defend him, and the children don’t really understand the racial conflicts.” 

Another banned book is Little House On The Prairie. Little House On The Prairie, that really tugs at my heart strings. This book turned me into a librarian. This book made me a reader,” Itzen said. “It has viewpoints of natives who are very painful for those folks to read about, and as a white person, I didn’t even think about that, so this one is one that really makes me think. We still have it here in this library.”

Banned books can be banned for many reasons. Some are banned for involving alternate sexualities or other reasons like racial language. 

Itzen said even back in her own junior high days, she was shocked that some might actively try to limit her choices for what to read, and the need to keep the door open to all choices for all readers is probably partially responsible for inspiring her to do the role that she is doing today.

“I think it’s very very important to get good books in the hands of kids, and it’s not our jobs as teachers to teach kids what to think. It’s to teach them how to think. They need a large library of sources, but I can’t decide where they’re gonna be,” Itzen said.

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