Nick’s Picks: Considering the First Amendment & banned books

This post was originally published in Nick Glass’ monthly column for Curriculum Connections, an e-newsletter published by School Library Journal in partnership with Subscribe to this free newsletter here.

September 24th begins Banned Books Week­—an annual celebration of the freedom to read organized by the American Library Association (ALA). In this month’s column, presents multimedia resources on the 10 most frequently challenged books of the past year.


These video, audio, and written offerings will stimulate informed discussions about First Amendment rights and encourage students to consider and respect perspectives that may be different than their own.


Beginning with the most frequently challenged title:

tango.1(Original Import)1. And Tango Makes Three (S & S, 2005)

Listen to Justin Richardson as he reveals the backstory behind the creation of this picture book, which he co-authored with Peter Parnell (illustrated by Henry Cole). In the recording Richardson also reads a short except from Tango.

absolutely2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown, 2007)

Play this original TeachingBooks “Meet-the-Author” recording in which Sherman Alexie introduces the main character of his award-winning young adult novel.

brave3. Brave New World (Doubleday, 1932)

Watch this archival video interview with author Aldous Huxley to better understand the context in which this classic title was written.

crank4. Crank (S & S, 2004)

Utilize this reading group guide when initiating a conversation about Ellen Hopkins’s controversial young adult novel.

hunger5. The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008)

Extend your students’ reading experience of Suzanne Collins’s popular dystopian novel with this reader’s theater script from the California Young Reader Medal Committee.

lush6. Lush (Scholastic, 2006)

Booktalk Natasha Friend’s novel about a teen dealing with her father’s alcoholism using this thoughtful discussion module from the Rhode Island Teen Book Award website.

mother7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know (S & S, 2001)

Be sure to listen to Sonya Sones pronounce her name before presenting her novel to your students.

Nickel8. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America (Metropolitan, 2001)

Introduce Barbara Ehrenreich’s investigative reporting with this audio performance by Cristine McMurdo-Wallis, produced by Recorded Books, LLC (2004).

revolutionary9. Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology (Alyson, 2000)

Read the blog of the anthology’s editor, Amy Sonnie, also known as the “banned librarian.”

twilight10. Twilight (Little Brown, 2005)

Locate the “Byronic hero” in Stephenie Meyer’s popular novel using this lesson plan offered by the National Council of Teachers of English.

For more information:

Posted by Nick Glass, Founder & Executive Director of

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