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Do you preread and censor books?

Reading | Literature 


Full Member
I purchase books for my reading groups. I then read each book they will read and white out any language that is not appropriate for school. How time consuming. Other teachers don't even know what the book is about that they ask their kids to read. What do you think?


Senior Member

I wouldn't take the time for that. I read everything before I put it in my library or use it with my students. If it has something I would have to white out I don't use it. It stays at home.


Senior Member
I have read about 2/3 of what is in my personal library. Of what I haven't read, most of them are a familiar author, or a counterpart has read it. When a student reads a book I haven't read yet, I get a lot of feedback from them.


Senior Member
I preread anything I am going to use as an instructional tool. I do not however censor the books. If a book has a bad word or something else controversial I just warn the kids(and parents) ahead of time and discuss it when it occurs.

I have a huge variety of books in my room from Magic Treehouse to Alex Rider. I read a ton, but I have not read them all. I make sure I always get my books from the children's section of bookstores, from the Scholastic book club that is at my students' grade level, or check on Amazon what grade level a book is recommended for. I warn parents at the beginning of the year that because families have different value systems, it is their child's responibility to get their parents' approval on all books they choose to read.


Senior Member

There was a time when I had read everything in my classroom library. That time has long passed.:( I've only read a fraction of what's there now. I personally hate Goosebumps and have only read a portion of one of the books. However, I have a whole slew of Goosebumps books, because the kiddoes love them. I get most of my books from Scholastic, so I've assumed they're okay. Occassionally, I hear about something that someone deems inappropriate, and I just yank that book. Funny though, what others deem inappropriate, I may not. The book that got the most uproar was the Eyewitness book about mammals, that had a little naked infant in it.



Senior Member

There is no way I could read all of my books. I think I have about 2,000 in my classroom. If I have a question on a book I go to Amazon and read the reviews. I often get a pretty good sense about a book from those. It would have to be pretty far out there though, for me to censor a book. I usually trust if they are written at a juvenile level and are sold by scholastic, they are probably ok.

That being said, as a 5th grade teacher, I don't put the Twilight books in my class library. If they bring them from home I don't say they can't read them. I just think the subject matter (the romance) is a little mature for 5th grade.

The books I choose for my reading groups are a little different. I probably would not choose a book that had a lot of language in it, but if it had some (like Hatchet) I would not white it out. There are enough good books that don't have a lot of language in them to read rather than choosing one and whiting it out. I do pre read any books that I choose for my groups.


Senior Member
I preread books if I'm assigning them. I don't censor books. I will warn my students if there is inappropriate language, but feel teaching them how to deal with it is more important that protecting them from it.

I purchase books for my classroom library that I believe are age appropriate.


If I have any question about a book, I make sure I look at and preview it. THe most recent kids' novel that I read was Walk Two Moons. If I were going to read this to my 4th graders (which I am not as they read it in 8th grade in our district as a class novel) I would only censor the blood and gore of the stillborn death. (unncessary and not crucial to the story line) There is thoughts of kissing and a couple of kissing scenes, but I would read them.

Some teachers censor Bud Not Buddy, but not me...I get a kick out of watching them squirm at a kissing scene! LOL


Senior Member
I read all whole class or lit circle books which I assign kids to read. My classrom free reading library with titles they self-select voluntarily is a different story--I would be reading all the time (oh, no!!!). Would love that, but I don't have time. Like PPs, I get 99% of my books through Scholastic book clubs; I teach 6th & 7th and TAB/TRC do contain some books labeled 'mature', but so far I have never had a parent complaint.

The only thing I have ever censored was a line in Twelfth Night. We read the No Fear version with contemporary English on one side and Shakespearean on the other. The kids wouldn't have a clue what the original meant, but the contemporary explanation was perfectly clear, and it was too vulgar. I blacked it out, which of course created a great deal of interest! I was glad when we adopted a different title.


Senior Member
censoring language

If I assign the book, I pre-read. Like others, I haven't read all of the books in my classroom library, but trust that most are okay because of where I get them or familiarity with the author, etc.

As far as censoring language, by 4th grade I don't worry about words like damn. Instead, I think kids can be taught that sometimes there's inappropriate language in books, but the expectation is that THEY use appropriate language. There was one book I read where a character was a mean drunk and said damn. I briefly explained how it was authentic language for that type of character; it helped that the character was very unlikeable, so it wasn't glamorized in the novel. I've never used anything with language stronger than damn, and I try not to highlight it by making a big deal of it.

But I also think the newest version of Huck Finn without the word nigger is a disservice to society. :rolleyes:

I do worry more about content than language at the upper elementary and middle school levels. Books like Twilight and The Hunger Games have pretty mature themes and ideas. Our district's middle school is using The Hunger Games as a class novel at one grade level, but a parent letter and permission slip was sent home first.


Full Member
I was left a book about different cultures from around the world. It had to be pulled off my shelf after the pages of some African cultures were discovered with half naked adults and children. Besides that, it had a lot of great information that the kids enjoyed reading about, however, it was my mistake to not look at it first.

With the other books, I typically just put on the shelf. I pre-read books that we will use together as a class, the rest I put on the shelf. I haven't had a complaint about any of the books. Most of them come from Scholastic or second hand stores, my mom is going nuts about helping build my classroom library.