Banned Books Week 2016: Diversity and dialogue

Speech bubble with the question "Which banned book character would you want to have lunch with?"
Image from the American Library Association

Banned Books Week 2016 starts on September 25 and highlights diversity.  This year I’m reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.  A Knoxville, TN parent thought the book had “too much graphic information” for a high school assignment (Doyle, 2016, p.7). It can spark other sorts of conversation as well.

The book tells the true story of a poor African American woman whose cells were used–without her consent–for scientific research.  At one point Skloot (2010, p. 7) reflects on how her background differs from that of the Lacks family.  How do we converse across racial, cultural, or religious lines?

Doctors did not always listen to Henrietta’s knowledge of her own symptoms and her own body (Skloot, 2010, p. 63).   From an information literacy standpoint readers can discuss the Authority is Constructed and Contextual frame (Association of College & Research Libraries, 2015).  Overall science and the humanities could engage in fruitful dialogue.  Let’s remember that research itself is a conversation (ACRL, 2015).

I’ll close with a conversation sparker, the above question: Which banned book character would you want to have lunch with?   Since Rebecca Skloot and the Lacks family are real people, not fictional characters, I probably couldn’t count them, but they would be remarkable lunch companions.  I wish you diverse reading and interesting conversations, too.


Association of College & Research Libraries. (2015).  Framework for information literacy for higher education.

Retrieved from ACRL website:

Doyle, R.P. (2016). Books challenged or banned, 2015-2016.  Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Skloot, R. (2010). The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks.  New York, NY: Crown.

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