Category: Events (Page 2 of 6)

Banned Books Week: Day Two

Welcome to the AAS Celebration of Banned Books Week!

Every day this week, we will be bringing news of book banning from across the divisions and around the world.  This year, we are focused on stories. Banning Books Silences Stories, and our community has more than a few stories of censorship, either from a home country, a place we’ve lived, or from family and friends.

Each day, we will focus on a theme of banning with the stories that accompany that theme.  Please feel welcome to share these stories. Take a moment today to appreciate your right to your personal story, and your ability to see it in literature and on film, and feel free to share this message with anyone you choose.

 Today, the topic at hand is curriculum. Books are often restricted at the curricular level, given the power that is in the hands of the teacher and the school.  Students are required or encouraged to read a certain text, a person or a group finds an issue with this, and the book is removed from suggested lists, classrooms, or curricula.

Two of our teachers have seen this in action.  In one example, a teacher expressed that a book that she wanted for her classroom, Plainsong, had a passage containing some sexual material.  The principal allowed her to purchase a class set of these books, but when they came in, he had her take out that page with an exact-o knife. One page removed from every single book in her new class set.  The teacher remarked that this was the worst moment in her teaching career.

A second teacher saw this in a friend of hers, with a book (Stick, Andrew Winger)  being on a recommended reading list. The book deals with LGBT issues, bullying, and abuse.  One group of people pressured the superintendent to remove the book from the list and from the library after one parent complained about the content.  Against the recommendations of a committee formed to review the book, they decided to remove it anyway.

One of the more famed cases of curriculum removal is in the case of Persepolis, removed from the Chicago Public Schools curricula.  The district commanded the removal of Persepolis from both classrooms and libraries, citing that they were unsure the students had the maturity to appreciate and fully understand the book.  There were no formal complaints and no formal process for removing the book, just a sudden and urgent push from the administration. Removing the book from curriculum completely removed it from student hands given that the school libraries there are not nearly as well-developed as the library here is.

Another common reason for books to be banned from curriculum is that they “aren’t academic enough.”  Some books that touch on truths that don’t want to be believed, stories that some believe are too intense for kids to read.  Reading them as a class can provide context and clarity, and requires trust in the educator as well as the text. It’s unfortunate that not every school honors the experience of the educator to teach tough topics.

AAS is fortunate to have books in curriculum that tackle tough topics, as well as books in classrooms and book rooms that deal with real life, emotions, and true experiences.  We are also amazingly fortunate to have educators that teach books that some others have banned.

Banned Books Week: Day One

Welcome to the AAS Celebration of Banned Books Week!

Every day this week, we will be bringing news of book banning from across the divisions and around the world.  This year, we are focused on stories. Banning Books Silences Stories, and our community has more than a few stories of censorship, either from a home country, a place we’ve lived, or from family and friends.

Each day, we will focus on a theme of banning with the stories that accompany that theme.  Please feel welcome to share these stories. Each story we hear of a banned book helps us to appreciate the freedom we have to read, both as international citizens and as members of the AAS community.  Our school is fortunate to have a robust library, full of books for a diverse school community, typically away from the claws of politics. Take a moment today to appreciate your right to your personal story, and your ability to see it in literature and on film, and feel free to share this message with anyone you choose.

Today, the topic at hand is widespread banning from countries, typically as a result of political or religious reasons.

At least three of our teachers in the high school have faced difficulty with textbooks in particular countries.  In two situations, passages were blacked out or redacted because of the politics of the region. In one more situation, all textbooks with the word “thinking” in the title were never received, having been stopped in customs and vanished by agents there.

One librarian (a friend of Ms. Kris) has trouble importing books into Saudi Arabia; each of his boxes is searched and if one of the books has any indication of alcohol, drugs, or pork, among other troublesome topics, the entire box is sent back.  If AAS was in Saudi, we would have immense trouble receiving boxes.

The idea of a country banning a book has happened through the ages. Books like “Animal Farm,” with government commentary and warning, have been banned in the Soviet Union, China, Saudi Arabia (pigs, right?), and a collection of other governments.

While some governments preempt these books, preventing them from ever entering the country, some governments rely on translation to restrict their topics.  Francoist Spain banned several books (“Ferdinand”) and used the translation in Spanish to scrub out the rest of the “offensive content.” You can find censored versions still today in stores.   

In Thailand, the film “Mockingjay” was pulled from the theatres after protesters began using the three finger salute in the “Hunger Games” trilogy.  Ms. K’s school, sensitive to the government’s wishes, then pulled them from the shelves and the Banned Books display.

In current news, both Kuwait and China are facing backlash for their book banning.  It’s becoming dangerous, though. Hong Kong has seen several booksellers go missing under mysterious circumstances after they sold contraband books to Chinese people.    

AAS is fortunate to have mail delivered through the diplomatic pouch, which means that even topics sensitive in our home country can be covered in the books that we own and enjoy.  You have the freedom to read about many topics that may be out of reach for some others.

Our AAS Library Book Chain!

This week, AAS is making a huge book chain of our reads this year!  Each class is assembling the chain for themselves, with each chain representing 10 books read.  Check out some pictures below of our chain in progress, and stop in to see the whole thing put together.

After just two days, it already stretches to the pirate ship.  By the time Friday rolls around, it will be even longer!  Please feel free to add your own links to our chain.  There is a station available for just that.

 

A Beautiful Book Journey

We have just heard a lovely story from one of our patrons, and we want to share it with the community.

Quoted from her email to us, with her permission to post.

“When I was a little girl, maybe 8 or 9, my mom gave me a Book of Russian Idioms Illustrated, wrote by a Soviet author and published in the USSR in 1980. I used to love this book, I read and re-read it. Idioms are fun by themselves, but this book also had funny pictures and English translations. It fascinated me.

Several years ago my mom found this book at their house and gave it back to me. I put it on the shelf.

Today I fished it out for [her child] who is struggling with Russian idioms, and discovered that the book has an ex libris stamp: LIBRARY/MEDIA CENTER ANGLO-AMERICAN SCHOOL MOSCOW, U.S.S.R.

How unbelievable is that? What was the journey of this book? Apparently, after it was published, it was imported to the USA by “Imported Publications” in Chicago Illinois (there is a stamp). AAS must have purchased the book from the USA and imported back into Russia for its library, and discarded it a few years later.

But how did my mom get it in the 1980s? What was the chance that it would again be used by an AAS student 30 years after it was discarded from the AAS Library and donated?”

This book story shows us that there are so many ways for books to be enjoyed and utilized by the members of our community!  Thank you for the sharing and for the delightful book journey.  We hope to have many opportunities to see stories like this in the future.

Our Newest Genres!

We have just finished genre-fying the YA and adult fiction in the library, making it easier to find exactly the type of book you want to find without sifting through hundreds of titles.

We have split the collection into 15 different sections, which all occupy different areas of the library.

Please see below a description of each genre with an example author, title, or series.

Fantasy: A book with a different world, often with features of magic and long epics. Ex: Game of Thrones.

Sci-Fi: Books often set in technological eras or environments, typically in space. Ex: Orson Scott Card and Isaac Asimov.

Horror: Paranormal fiction, with vampires or werewolves, or hauntings and creepy ghost stories. Ex: Stephen King and Anne Rice.

Dystopia: A book typically set in a world you recognize but having been destroyed with political or environmental disasters.  Usually, survival is a main feature. Ex: The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and the Divergent series.

Teen: Contemporary YA literature about a variety of real issues, including body image, race, fitting in, relationships, grief, and more. Ex: John Green, Laurie Halse Anderson.

Poetry/Novels in Verse: Typically contemporary as well, though written in verse or poetry. Ex: Ellen Hopkins.

Romance: Books about relationships. Ex: Kiera Cass, Jenny Han.

LGBT: Books with characters who are finding relationship as LGBT people or in the process of finding their identity as lesbian, gay, or transgendered people. Ex: David Levithan.

Historical: Books set in a different time frame, sometimes with a catalyst event like a war or other struggle. Ex: Ken Follett, Jeffery Archer.

Popular: This section holds most of our contemporary fiction, which is mainly adult level and interest. These books you would find in most bookstores and airports as bestsellers and books to enjoy.

Russia: This section holds our Russian interest books, and includes the classics of Russian literature (in English), books set in Russia, historical or contemporary, and several spy thrillers with Russia focuses. Ex: Leo Tolstoy, A Gentleman in Moscow.

Thrillers: Page-turning books, often with psychological features of fear and suspense. Ex: Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train.

Mystery: Books focused on the solving of a crime, often by a police officer, detective, lawyer, or professional. Ex: Agatha Christie, Lee Child, Janet Evanovich.

Literature: This section holds contemporary literature, with books that are often complex, deep, or deal with intense issues. Ex: Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami.

Classic: This section holds our classics, with many first published 50 years ago or more. Ex: Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway.

Our Visiting Authors: Sara and Michael!

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the PTO for supporting this visit.

Our visiting authors worked with students throughout the elementary and middle school.  They ran a few assemblies for the elementary and middle school students.  They ran writing workshops for a selection of middle grades humanities classrooms.  They did poetry with Grade 2 and Public Speaking with Grade 5.

And! They came to the PTO meeting to speak with the parents.  They talked about reading, about writing, and they constructed a poem with the parents about family and family life.

Please enjoy some photos of their visit and a small selection of the slides they brought to the parents.

See more of their photos on the AAS Flickr account.

Events: Celebrating Dr. Seuss

The library has been celebrating a classic children’s book author and illustrator this year and today we can finally say, “Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!” Here is a clip from our current bulletin board which shows the results of our student poll asking which was his best book. The winner by a landslide was The Lorax.

Film Feature: The Academy Awards

This year the Academy Award winners will be announced on March 4, 2018. We have copies of many of the nominees that were released earlier in 2017 as well as a great number of winners and nominees from past years. If you are interested in picking out an excellent film from the library collection then there couldn’t be a better time. Stop in!

Book Award Season is coming!

On February the 12th we will find out which books have been selected for the 2018 Newbery, Caldecott and Printz Awards. In the meantime we are building some excitement with bulletin boards and displays. Can’t wait to find out the results!

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