Teaching Reading

Banned Books

Banned books are something that have been recently introduced to me. I find it interesting and in a way, rebellious to read a banned book. For this post, I will be talking about what makes a book banned, the most recent banned books, and some surprising banned books.

For a book to be banned, it does not take a lot. What happens is someone, usually a parent or patron, find offensive material in a novel. They find the material so offensive that they do not think it is appropriate for readers. These readers are usually  children or young adults. The following are reasons: offensive language, violence, having or promoting occult themes, promoting homosexuality, racism, sexual education, nudity, and promoting religious viewpoints. If a book gets enough supporters against it, it could be completely removed from school libraries.

Image from saiful bahari

In 2017, there was a list made of the “Top 10 Challenged Books of 2017”. The first of the list is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. This resurfaced on the banned book list because of the release of the Netflix series. As a result, it is banned from multiple schools because it discusses suicide. The next book on the list is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Even though this is a National Book Award winner, it is still on the banned book list because of profanity and sexually explicit situations. The third and final book I am going to talk about is Drama by Raina Telgemeier. This graphic novel is a Stonewall Honor Award winner that is banned in school libraries because of the LGBT characters. As I said before, there are 10 books in this list so if you would like to check out the other banned books, the link will be in my “resources” section.

Since I am planning on being an Elementary teacher, I thought it would be interesting to look at some children’s books that are banned. I was surprised to find so many children’s books are banned so I am going to be talking about some that surprised me. The first book I am going to talk about is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. This book was banned from a library in Colorado because of its sexists content. The next book is James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. This book was banned because of some offensive language. The next book is Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. It was banned because of its profanity, disrespect for adults and religious phrases. The final book I want to talk about is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle. The banning of this book is interesting because it was not banned for the content of the book but for the author. The Texas State Board of Education confused the author, Bill Martin Jr with Bill Martin, a philosopher of a controversial novel. This book is no longer banned.

Overall, it was interesting and surprising to look at the different banned books. I believe it is important to explore different topics however, I do see how parents would not want their children reading some of these books.



Education.com. (2010, May 05). What Makes a Banned Book? Retrieved from https://www.education.com/magazine/article/banned_books/

E. (2018, June 14). Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2017: Resources & Graphics. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/NLW-Top10

K. (2017, July 18). Frequently Challenged Children’s Books. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/childrensbooks

Teaching Reading

Phonics for Lower Elementary

According to the National Reading Panel, “The primary focus of phonics instruction is to help beginning readers understand how letters are linked to sounds to form letter-sound correspondences and spelling patterns and to help them learn how to apply this knowledge in their reading.” Now that you know what the focus of phonics instruction is, I want to center this blog post around how phonics instruction can help (or hurt) upper elementary students.

Before getting into the students specifically, it is important to understand that there are two different ways instruction may be provided, systematically or incidentally. For this post, I will be focused more on the systematic approach. In this approach, there are a couple different concepts that can be presented to students.

Image from Megan

The first I want to talk about is analogy phonics. This is when students are taught unfamiliar words by analogy to know words. An example of this is recognizing rime segments such as brick and kick are recognized by the -ick.

The second I want to talk about is synthetic phonics. This is when students are taught to convert letters into sounds and then blend the sounds to form words. When using the systematic synthetic phonics instruction in the classroom, it had a positive effect on disabled readers’ reading skills. This type of instruction benefits students will learning disabilities and low-achieving students.

The systematic phonics instruction approached the ability of good readers spelling. This was across all grade levels however, the impact was the strongest for kindergarten. For poor readers, the impact on spelling was very small.

There is speculation that kindergarten students may not be ready for phonics instruction. However, the data given does not support this. The effects of early phonics instruction were significant with kindergarten and first grade students. This suggests that systematic phonics should be implemented during this time.

Including phonics instruction can be a difficult process for any teacher. The National Reading Panel says, “educators must keep the end in mind and ensure that children understand the purpose of learning letter sounds and that they are able to apply these skills accurately and fluently in their daily reading and writing activities.” When a teacher is shown the importance of phonics reading, it become more motivational because they are giving their students and education that will help them in the long run. However, it can be hard to keep this motivation throughout the lessons. Some phonic programs have teachers follow specific instructions. This can become boring and tiring for the students and the teacher.

There is something that is still being researched with phonics instruction in the lower elementary and that is how long should it continue? If starting in kindergarten and first grade, should it continue into second and third grade? This is something that is still yet to be answered. There is no set number of how much phonics instruction should get because there is no way of knowing a specific answer. Every student is different and their skills will be different.


Phonics Instruction. (2017, August 12). Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/phonics-instruction