Children

Banning books: keeping our children safe from the perils of free thinking

Burning books is not funny. Neither is banning them, or challenging their right to sit on a library shelf. That being said, sometimes people find reasons to hate books that are so absurd, Meghara Eichhorn-Hicks can’t help laughing. It is in this spirit of mocking exasperation that she presents a list of books that have been banned, burned or challenged for totally ridiculous reasons.

New law could cost U.S. libraries thousands or worse, ban children

Coshocton Tribune - Coshocton,OH: Coshocton Public Library Children's Librarian Diane Jones is watching and waiting. Over the next year it will be determined if all of the library's children's books will need to be tested for lead, if children 12 and under will have to be banned or, best case scenario, neither has to happen.

Children's Author Rosemary Wells Salutes Librarians and Teachers

Author Rosemary Wells made a lot of people feel good about themselves at the Staten Island Historical Society Literacy Leadership luncheon at the Excelsior Grand, New Dorp.

The creator of beloved characters such as sibling bunnies Max and Ruby stressed the importance of reading to children every day and praised the people who help make that possible.

"Without teachers and librarians, our world as writers would be very small. Because of you, the world of ideas is open to all children," she said. The author of some 60 books lauded the society's honoree, Robert (Bobaloo) Basey, for his work as a storyteller.

"When you go around to schools and libraries, you are a living book and that is a wonderful life to live," she said.

Telling a story about building bridges, and performing his own exit music on a flute, Basey, a teaching artist and Stapleton native, expressed his gratitude for "getting a boost to hang in there. It's a challenge with arts funding being cut."

A major Max and Ruby fan, Robyn Busan, 7, was there to meet Ms. Wells. She is also a child who is being given, in Ms. Wells' words, the "gift of thought and language" by being read to.

"I like that he [Max] doesn't really talk much," said the first-grader at PS 65.

"And he doesn't listen," said her father, Robert, who was obviously benefiting from the daily reading sessions he and his wife share with their daughter.

The Law Formerly Known as 'No Child Left Behind'?

Report from the NYTimes: Two years ago, an effort to fix No Child Left Behind, the main federal law on public schools provoked a grueling slugfest in Congress, leading Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, to say the law had become “the most negative brand in America.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan agrees. “Let’s rebrand it,” he said in an interview. “Give it a new name.” And before Mr. Duncan has had time to float a single name, scores of educators, policy wonks and assorted rabble-rousers have rushed in with an outpouring of proposals.

A blog contest to rename the No Child Left Behind law has received entries like the Rearranging the Deck Chairs Act and the Teach to the Test Act. Here's the website sponsoring the contest. So far, 216 suggestions have been made.

It's on the Internet, So It's Got To Be Right

Not necessarily.

And that's the lesson that Stephanie Rosalia was teaching her students at P.S. 225 in Brooklyn. The website they were looking at, All About Explorers, is intentionally peppered with false facts.

Ms. Rosalia, the school librarian at Public School 225, a combined elementary and middle school in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, urged caution. “Don’t answer your questions with the first piece of information that you find,” she warned. Story from the NYTimes.

Scholastic Accused of Misusing Book Clubs

Scholastic Inc., the children’s publisher of favorites like the Harry Potter, Goosebumps and Clifford series, may be best known for its books, but a consumer watchdog group accuses the company of using its classroom book clubs to push video games, jewelry kits and toy cars.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group based in Boston, said that it had reviewed monthly fliers distributed by Scholastic last year and found that one-third of the items sold in these brochures were either not books or books packaged with other items.

Full article here.

Lead Law Exemption Gets Libraries Off the Hook

San Jose Mercury News reports that libraries are the latest organizations to win relief from a tough new federal law taking effect today that all but bans lead in children's products.

On Friday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission exempted children's books printed after 1985 from the new law's enforcement provisions, which allow fines of as much as $100,000 per violation for selling or distributing products that contain more than 600 parts per million of lead intended for use by children 12 and younger.

"We're jubilant," said Barbara Roberts, president of the California Library Association on Monday. Before the exemption, Roberts said libraries across the nation faced the prospect of closing their children's sections and discarding thousands of books from their collections. Roberts added that she was bewildered that lawmakers would pass a law with such broad reach "without thinking of the ramifications in the field."

There's a big exception though. Jennifer Baker, library director with the St. Helena Public Library in Napa Valley, said the law still puts off limits to children rare, older books. She said one library at which she worked kept a collection of Mother Goose books from the early 1900s, while others retain original copies of old classics, like those from the Nancy Drew or Tom Swift series, she said. I guess they'll have to wait til they're adults to enjoy the books.

Lead Law Could Cause Big Headaches for Libraries

Toys with dangerous levels of lead, toxic chemicals in clothing, hazardous baby cribs — the soon-to-be-enforced Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act aims to protect children from all of them.

But library books? Unless the Consumer Product Safety Commission exempts them from the sweeping legislation, libraries nationwide could be forced to pull children’s books from their shelves or, alternately, ban children. The law is scheduled to take effect on February 10.

“You’re talking about separating children from books, which has got to be the most ridiculous thing this commission has ever attempted,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington office. “Books are safe. They are not a dangerous product.”

Paper cuts maybe...but lead? Kansas City Star reports.

Baby born at Denver library.

DENVER -- Within minutes of stepping off a bus Tuesday morning, a woman dropped a special package at the downtown Denver library -- a baby.
[rest of story here]

I don't know why a woman would take the bus to the library when she was clearly in labor. Maybe she'd heard that baby story times fill up fast and she just wanted to get signed up.

But as paramedics wheeled the new mother and child from the lobby, the library manager informed the woman that she owed the library five cents because, "It's obvious ma'am, that baby was way overdue."

According to the Denver Daily, "The mother and child are in good health and will be holding a 10:30 a.m. press conference today at Denver Health. At the event, the mom will talk about giving birth in a nontraditional setting."

SCOTUS Won't Save the Child Online Protection Act of 1998

scotusblog says The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused the federal government’s request to salvage a six-year-old law seeking to ban minors’ access to sexually explicit material on the World Wide Web. Acting on that law for the third time, the Justices simply declined to review a Third Circuit Court decision last July striking down the Child Online Protection Act of 1998. The Justices’ action came without comment and with no noted dissents in Mukasey v. American Civil Liberties Union, et al. (08-565).

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