Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Let's censor the censors

I promised an article about Laurie Halse Anderson after hearing her at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga last night. She recounted wonderful stories about her books and her writing life. The two she discussed in most detail were Speak, which I have already reviewed, and Fever 1793, which I bought and got signed after her presentation (review to come).

She mentioned that her YA novel Speak had been challenged, so I went looking for information and found this in her February 4th post:
What a way to start the month. First, John Green's Looking for Alaska is under fire for being "pornographic."

And now, some parents are going after Speak. The teacher involved has asked me not to name the school because she wants the process and policies of the district to unfold away from the glare of any spotlights. I respect that. I am allowed to say that it's a middle school in suburban Detroit. For the record, this has also happened in New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Washington, New York, Maine, and California. (As a result of the challenges, the book was embraced, not banned. Which does make an author feel good and a teacher feel even better.)

I sent her a note with teen sexual assault statistics and shared the feedback I've had from readers and their parents, who are grateful for a story that allows them to broach a difficult subject.

This teacher could use some professional support. If you teach Speak, can you please leave a note in the comments section for her? Tell her why you use the book. Tell her about your classroom experiences and your professional opinion about the place of the book in the curriculum. Or just give her a pat on the back. If you are a teen, tell her what the book meant to you.

Thank you very much and spread the word.
Note to Laurie Halse Anderson: I'm spreading the word just as far as I can shout it, not only here, but also on my Banned Books project blog.

1 comment:

Selma said...

Why are people so afraid of the written word? Seems the more information teens are armed with the better. So many ultra-conservative parents of teens that I know have ended up with kids who basically are 'screwed up.' You can't beat open communication. Censorship really is unnecessary in this age where information is over-saturating the market. I think it (censorship) should be banned.