If you've been struggling to find our write book rationales to help justify for your administration and community why you have books in your classroom library or why you've selected specific books to read, this is a godsend. I just received an email this morning as an National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) member with information about the new Online Book Rationale Database they have launched.
I have added this database to the list of resources in the Good Trouble: Managing Censorship in Your ELA Classroom post.
The database includes more than 600 rationales and can be searched by title, author and grade level. I decided to check the 10 most challenge books in 2021, according to the American Library Association, to see how many of them have rationales.
I was only able to find rationales for two of the 10 books on the list.
Please note that you'll need to be an NCTE member and logged into their website to download the rationales.
What does this mean?
This means that as a teacher who whose goal is to rethink your ELA practice, you have an opportunity to pick one or two books that you know need to be taught in your curriculum or provided in your classroom or school library and write their rationales. If you're an NCTE member, you can contribute them to the database so others can benefit.
The NCTE email stated:
[These rationales] are designed to empower educators to use their professional judgment to curate past and new knowledge to prepare students as literate individuals and critical thinkers in a democratic society.
NCTE provides guidelines and a template on how to write a book rationale and additional ways to participate in the project, including a place to suggest a title or join the review team.
Personally, I will be adding The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson to their list of books that need rationales. I noticed that when there is more than one rationale, both (all?) are published on the download page, so I will work on writing rationales for the books I mentioned, especially The Hate U Give, which I received pushback on from my community in 2018 and All American Boys, which was recommended to me in 2016 by a student.
If you aren't an NCTE member, but you know of books that students need to have access to, please let me know the title, author, and a short rationale in the comments section below so I can suggest the title or write a full-length rationale for contribution.