The First Amendment and the Right to Read

Last week, we spoke of another educational crisis – lack of proficiency amongst students as regards literacy in the subjects of civics and American History.  Of course, such a crisis means that in a few years only a minority will understand their First Amendment rights, one of which is the right to read.

Children are included in this right as has been interpreted by the Supreme Court in Island Trees v. Pico and Tinker v. Des Moines.

Island Trees Sch. Dist. v. Pico by Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982)

Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U. S. 503393 U. S. 506 (1969)

Island Tree affirmed that “Local school boards may not remove books from school libraries simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.”

And, “Students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” Tinker affirmed.

Thus, school libraries have the right to collect quality children’s literature for students without repercussion.  Children have the right to check out such books from the school library.  Parents have the right to decide if their child can read this book or that by reason of parenthood.  Parents DO NOT have the right to choose what other students can read, besides their own child(ren).

Plain and simple.

Perhaps this message should be discussed in several lessons!  Discuss the First Amendment!  Discuss these cases!

And, as always, NCBLA has ready-made resources, just for you, educator, librarian, literacy expert (click link)!  🙂