Banned Books Week 2016

Banned or Challenged?

When someone feels that a book should not be read by others in a school or library, they can challenge the book and asked to have it removed. When that happens, librarians and school officials follow a procedure to decide whether or not that book should be removed. The book is actually banned when it has been removed. If a book is banned or challenged in one library, school, county or school district, that does not necessarily mean that it will be banned in other areas. Here at Severn, we don’t believe in the practice of banning books from our library, but some books have been challenged in the past.

A Shift in Why People Ban Books

infographic-diversityFor years, books have typically been banned or challenged for controversial language or sexual themes. But according to James LaRue, Director of the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, “there’s been a shift toward seeking to ban books focused on issues of diversity—things that are by or about people of color, or LGBT, or disabilities, or religious and cultural minorities.”

Why is this happening? Could it be that books that focus on diversity simply weren’t on the shelves before? And now that they are, they are subject to censorship? Which is worse?

How Can I Help?

img_1217Read banned books! Read diverse books! Start a conversation. Share stories of diversity in your own lives and encourage your friends to do the same. Speak up for what you believe is right. Talk to your parents! Talk to your teachers! Find out why these books are banned or challenged, then READ THEM and make your own choice.

Get thinking! Think about the difference between your personal choices or opinions and more general rules for everyone. Is it right for someone who doesn’t like ideas in a book to prevent other people from reading it? Why or why not?


Upper School Read Recap: Fahrenheit 451

What is the Upper School Read?

Upper School Read day is an annual Severn School tradition that brings our community together to dive into relevant and often controversial topics in literature. A committee of students and faculty choose a book for the read that inspires critical thought and reflection. All Upper School faculty and students then read it over the summer and participate in engaging workshops to investigate themes represented in the book. This year we read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and it was a huge success!

The Book

Themes represented in Fahrenheit 451 center around technology and censorship.  Bradbury said to his own biographer, “Fahrenheit 451 is less about Big Brother and more about Little Sister.” It’s as much about society’s lack of interest in reading and critical thought as it is about government control. Who is to blame, us or them? Most likely both. Some critique that Bradbury flip flops in his interpretation of his own work. But maybe that’s what good literature does. It grows and changes as our world does the same.

The Day

The day was shaped by exciting and thought provoking workshops where teachers and students explored topics in censorship and technology. The biggest hit was our 451 Scavenger Hunt where kids worked in groups to solve puzzles and find hidden banned books all the while holding onto a jump rope fire hose (use your imagination folks!).

Each year the Upper School Read brings a new opportunity for students and teachers to explore their own interests and opinions, while learning from each other. For a look back at previous Upper School Read days, check out the summaries on our library website.

Poetically Creative for National Poetry Month!

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Mrs. Coutts and Ms. Etchison have been rolling up their sleeves to get a little crafty, a little creative and very poetic with Middle School English classes!

There’s something heartwarming about a group of kids sitting on the floor and reading poetry. And even better than that is what grew out of those lessons! A poet-tree in full bloom with original and quoted works, black-out poetry inspired by poetic beauty already on the page … and hopefully some newfound love for the many types of poetry out there.

Come take a look! If you feel inspired, add a leaf to our poet-tree or create your own black-out poetry and we’ll post it!



Exploring Research Together

Fifth graders in Mrs. Dabrowka and Mrs. Kitchin’s classes visited the Teel Campus Library in February as part of their study of the Arctic and Antarctica. With Mrs. Coutts leading the charge, students went on a team treasure hunt to find information in books and library databases. Back in their classrooms, they assembled display boxes that used recycled material (tissue boxes) to present their findings. Each box is adorned with a creative likeness of the explorer along with details of the adventurer’s life and time, complete with bibliographies!

Parents, students and teachers are welcome to come check out the finished products on display in the Teel Library. It was a great day of sharing and learning for the library team and our fantastic fifth graders!

March Madness, Library Style

It’s that time of year again … time for School Library Journal’s annual Battle of the Kids Books! March Madness, library style!

Stop by the library during March to track the progress of this tournament-to-end-all-tournaments! We say this every year, but the books selected for the 2016 competition are really outstanding! There’s a little bit of something for every reading taste. Don’t rely solely on our opinions though, grab a book (or five) and judge for yourself.


Art + Research = Awesome

The library is looking artfully colorful these days thanks to Ms. Leonard’s 8th Grade art class. What began with research ended up with some impressive original artwork.  Research and art? Yes!

Artists borrow ideas from each other all the time! To explore the process of art appropriation, eighth grade artists spent a day in the library researching artists and gathering ideas for their own work. — Ms. Leonard

In this lesson on art appropriation, students learned how to research and take inspiration from an artist, mimicking their chosen artist’s style, color palette, composition and/or subject matter, but without copying an actual piece of art. The resulting pieces reflect the influence, but also maintain a sense of each student’s individual style.

Stop by the library and take a look! You might find some inspiration of your own!

The Earth Without Art is Just “eh”

We think this sentiment applies to libraries too!  Since moving into our beautiful new space we’ve noticed one (huge) thing missing … student artwork!  Our library just doesn’t feel like home without it.  We’re working on it!

Book Art

Mrs. Coutts sent out a call last week for anyone interested in making book art to come by the library for some book-art-modge podge-crafty-messy fun.  We got a few projects started and can’t wait to see the finished products.

Art with a Conscience

Ms. Josey’s 8th Grade Environmental Art projects are on display along with some of our favorite books on the theme of conservation and being “green”.  Not only are these artworks beautiful and creative, they are thought provoking and call to mind our responsibility to our planet and the creatures we share it with.

Please come by and take a look.  If you have any art you’d like to share or you are interested in creating something with us, just let us know!