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Professional Development Program for Educators

Challenging Classroom Conversations: Banned and Challenged Books

Date and Time
Live Online
Jonathan Friedman portrait
Jonathan Friedman

Director of Free Expression and Education Programs, PEN America

Elyse Warren Alter portrait
Elyse Warren Alter

Content Development Manager

Stephanie Hasty Portrait
Stephanie Hasty

Author, English Language Arts Instructor

Allan Carey cropped
Allan Carey

Director, Sphere Education Initiatives

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Can I teach that book? What kind of reaction am I going to get from my administration or parents if I do? Is it worth the hassle?

Across the country, educators are struggling with an evolving and confusing landscape when it comes to what they can teach. The number of banned and challenged books is skyrocketing. Some teachers have been told to hide or remove their classroom libraries out of fear of violating the law. Unsurprisingly, this has left educators afraid and confused.

Sphere Education Initiatives is pleased to welcome Jonathan Friedman, Director of Free Expression and Education Programs at PEN America, for our webinar Challenging Classroom Conversations: Banned and Challenged Books to discuss his research on banned and challenged books in America, what’s driving this phenomenon, and how educators can respond during these confusing times. Join us on Wednesday, February 15th from 7:30 – 9:00 Eastern for this timely and important conversation.

Following the opening conversation on banned and challenged books, there will be a professional development workshop introducing Sphere’s latest classroom resource, “Practicing Civil Discourse Through Literature.” Elyse Alter, Content Development Manager for Sphere Education Initiatives, will be joined by Stephanie Hasty, the author of the resource and an English Language Arts instructor, to discuss the role of civil discourse in the ELA classroom, preview some of the materials, and discuss ways to practically respond to the specter of banned and challenged books in your community.

  • This event will be presented via Zoom.
  • All grades 5–12 educators are eligible to attend.
  • Earn professional development for attending.



Presentation: Banned and Challenged Books

Featuring Jonathan Friedman, moderated by Allan Carey


Professional Development Workshop: Practicing Civil Discourse Through Literature

Featuring Elyse Alter and Stephanie Hasty