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A retired NC English teacher on the auspicious up-side of book bans

By: Betty Webb

This Letter to the Editor originally published at The News & Observer.

As a retired English teacher I know that censorship fosters reading. If a teacher even whispers (slyly) that a book has been banned, you can count on a library stampede. Unfortunately, students in search of shocking material are likely to be disappointed since nothing in any N.C. school library can compete with the violence and vulgarity they have ready access to on social media.

But in reading a censored book students just might have the kind of deep, magical learning experience reading uniquely provides. Such experiences can make students lifelong readers, ensuring they’ll be lifelong learners. So may the censors keep at it. They’ll increase book sales and library circulation stats.

I am halfway through Gender Queer and am loving it, I would never have found it were it not for the condemnation of the censors. Have I been shocked? Indeed I have not. Have I learned something valuable? Indeed I have. Do I wish I had read it in middle school? Indeed I do.

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