Guest Opinion: Stef Morgan: Arming Students with Books

Stephen Morgan

Engard!

To be armed or not to be armed?

How did it become a problem? !

These terms are reminiscent of guns when we should be focusing on arming our students with books. Imagine children gathered on the rug, fascinated by a book the librarian or teacher is reading during their reading. Toddlers in their favorite pajamas revel in their parents’ lap, waiting to hear an immersive bedtime story. Take a family vacation road trip and listen to captivating audiobooks.

To ban or not to ban?

In a world where knowledge is power, extremists want to restrict access to books, our source of information. Students are hungry for information and want to learn. Books give readers the opportunity to see through the window things they may not have experienced in their own lives, and in the mirror to see experiences similar to their own. From their attitudes outside of these books, readers can gain empathy while reading about challenging circumstances about characters they might not interact with, as well as getting insights from characters in similar situations on how to face them thoughts on the problem. Controlling that curiosity by banning books will only replicate those current leaders who are deciding to ban books.

To hurt or not to hurt?

Is this the ultimate question?

What is more harmful? Book or gun?

Weapons do not create a comfortable, safe learning environment, nor do they nourish the curious mind. So it is very ironic that those who want to ban books are defending the rights of those who want to carry offensive weapons, even young people.

We need to lay down our weapons and pick up our books! Our world needs to be properly armed – books. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird helps readers understand white privilege and racism deep in the South. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie helps readers understand life on Indian reservations. Between Mice and Men by John Steinbeck helps readers understand the struggles of humanity during the Great Depression. Each of these books, and countless others, provide a window into a world that middle-class whites may not understand, yet they are on the banned list. Such books must never be banned. Instead, they should be nurtured to arm tomorrow’s leaders with empathy and understanding.

We need dedicated educators to lead national renaissance. People are not afraid of what they understand. Books help deepen our understanding of the world and the people around us. Teachers can help citizens learn to accept who they are and have an interest in bridging differences between themselves and others, and how to understand opposing viewpoints and resolve conflicts peacefully.

No guns.

No book ban.

Just a course with tons of books and love.

Arm our children with critical thinking skills.

Only in this way can future generations engage constructively with those around them who are both similar to them and different from them.

Avant-garde!

Stef Morgan is a teacher. Morgan lives in Boulder.

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