AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
There is clearly a misunderstanding of the First Amendment by many of our nation's citizens. It isn't that they weren't taught the United States Constitution in school; it's simply that they weren't taught to draw a connection between the Constitution and their own lives. This may be why so many people turn their heads in book censorship cases or when the Patriot Act is being debated in Congress.
The First Amendment gives American citizens a voice, but there are those who believe that this amendment doesn't apply to the young. Under the First Amendment, students are granted the right to be heard. There are court eases to prove it. Steven Pico's journey to retain in books in the school libraries of the Island Trees Union Free School District on Long Island, NY, began in 1976 and ended in the halls of the Supreme Court in 1982. Students in Olathe, KS, fought their battle to keep Nancy Garden's Annie on My Mind (Farrar, 1982) in their school library in 1984. And, in 2002, a fourth grader in Cedarville, AR, challenged the school administration to remove restrictions on the "Harry Potter" books (Scholastic) so that all students could have equal and open access to them.
New free-speech issues related to children and young adults are cropping up all over the nation. Social networking, open access to the Internet, school newspapers and freedom of the press, and privacy in schools are among them. No teacher or school administrator should wait for any of these issues to play out in a courtroom. It's much better when a classroom becomes an open forum where students feel that their opinions are heard. The following books and Web sites are recommended for students as they begin their journey toward understanding the First Amendment and what it means to be intellectually free.
ANDERSON, Laurie Halse. Speak. Farrar. 1999. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-374-37152-4.
Gr 9 Up--Melinda Sordino is labeled an outcast by her peers after she calls the police during a wild party. When people in her town want to burn Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Melinda finds a friend-the high school librarian who completely understands her loneliness and what it feels like to be ostracized. Audiobook available from Listening Library.
AVI. Nothing but the Truth: A Documentary Novel. Scholastic/Orchard. 2003. Tr $9.95. ISBN 978-0-439-32730-5.
Gr 7 Up--In …