Monday, October 2, 2017

Middle Grade Monday: Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz. 256 p. Tom Doherty Associates, August, 2017. 9780765385567. (Review from finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Fourth grader Amy Anne is pretty quiet and quite shy, but when she finds that her favorite book has been removed from the school library along with five or six other titles because they have been challenged by a well-meaning parent, she takes action. First, she reads all the other books. Then, she opens a lending library from her locker. Find out what happens when Amy Anne and her friends exercise their freedom to read.

I really enjoyed this one. It's a great way to introduce intellectual freedom in a way younger students will understand. The discussion guide at the end is a plus as well. 

Amy Anne is a relatable character who finds her voice at home and at school. She becomes delightfully subversive in her solution to give her friends and classmates freedom to read and think for themselves. Amy Anne is a confident and thoughtful reader. I just love the fact that the first thing she did when she learned of the list of challenged books was read them. Something the school board didn't think to do. I also loved that Amy Anne knew her own tastes and comfort level as a reader and put off reading the title that she knew would make her uncomfortable. She was a critical reader who, while she did not like a certain popular book herself, (brilliant dig, btw) recognized that others had the right to read and like the book. 

I also appreciated that Gratz did not paint the parent who challenged the books as a villain with an ax to grind, but as a concerned and involved parent. 

Ban This Book is a great addition to any library. My only wish, being a middle school library is that Amy Ann was older. A book with younger characters is a hard sell. I'm hoping my students will be unable to resist that appealing cover.

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