September 2018 #NCTEchat: Banning Books Silences Stories - National Council of Teachers of English
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September 2018 #NCTEchat: Banning Books Silences Stories

“Stories are a communal currency of humanity.” —Tahir Shah, in Arabian Nights

Stories are at the heart of every book we read, every movie or television show we watch, every tale that’s told in a classroom or around a dinner table—in essence, stories permeate every part of our lives. That’s why this year’s theme for Banned Books Week, Banning Books Silences Stories, is so poignant. Not only does it go to the heart of why we read—for the story—but it also gets at the damage book banning does by silencing stories that need to be told.

We hope you will join us and hosts Gretchen Oltman (@Dr_Oltman) and Teri Lesesne (@ProfessorNana) this Sunday, September 16, at 8:00 p.m. EST for an #NCTEchat to help prepare for this year’s Banned Books Week celebration. Learn more about our hosts below, and be sure to check out the revised Position Statement Regarding Rating or “Red-Flagging” Books, which Gretchen and Teri worked on along with Annamary Consalvo and Jocelyn A. Chadwick.


The following questions will be shared during our Twitter chat, after introductions:

Q1. The theme of this year’s #BannedBooksWeek (September 23–29) is Banning Books Silences Stories. Name 1–3 texts that share stories that resonate with your students. #NCTEchat

Q2. Do you have a policy for challenges to materials in your classroom library? How did you put it together? Where do parents find it? #NCTEchat

Q3. What resources (articles, policies, websites, organizations etc.) have you found useful in dealing with challenges or preparing for a possible challenge? #NCTEchat

Q4. Many book challenges are based on the “age appropriateness” of a book. What do you think this means? How can we know as classroom teachers what is age appropriate? #NCTEchat

Q5. How do you “celebrate” #BannedBooksWeek in your classroom/school? What do your students do to celebrate the freedom to read? #NCTEchat

Q6. Censorship can impact the stories our students hear. How do you encourage students to speak out about the books they want to read? #NCTEchat

We hope to see you there! Be sure to join us by using #NCTEchat.

Never participated in a Twitter chat before? Check out this guide to help you get started.


Teri Lesesne (rhymes with insane) is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Library Science at Sam Houston State University, where she teaches courses in literature for children and young adults. She taught middle school English language arts and reading classes as well. She is the author of three books, dozens of book chapters, and an array of articles. She has served in book selection committees for ALA, including the Printz, Edwards, and Odyssey. She also served NCTE on the Middle Level Section Steering Committee. Past president and past executive director of ALAN, Teri will receive the Hipple Award for her service in November.

Gretchen Oltman is an assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She has over two decades of experience in education and law, from high school English teacher to university administrator. She holds a law license in Nebraska and studies education law as her research path. She is the author of Violence in Student Writing: A Guide for School Administrators and coauthor of Law Meets Literature: A Novel Approach to the English Classroom. A longtime member of NCTE, Oltman has served on the Standing Committee Against Censorship and as a member of the selection committee for the Intellectual Freedom Award.