"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Authors of Banned Books Speakout

This has been an amazing week in the GKHS library.  Many teachers are bringing their students in to the library the make their free-choice book selections and I've talked to every class about the implications of banned books and what it means to them.  The last group I worked with was the most rewarding.  30 eager honors students from an English class, they wanted to know all about Banned Books and literally booed when I mentioned that To Kill A Mockingbird is often at the top of the list.  They read that book as a required read last year.  They all wanted to read Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak after I told them about the controversy right now over that book in Missouri. They moaned about the idea of some adult telling everyone they shouldn't read the book just because he doesn't like it.  Bravo for this generation.  They understand how important it is to stand up for their freedom to read.

With that in mind I found a few choice quote from authors about their experiences with book banning.

Carolyn Mackler, author of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things from an article found on ilovelibraries.org:
So The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things has made it onto the Top Ten list again... The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things is the story of Virginia, a curvy fifteen-year-old girl who has been made to feel terrible about herself by her not-so-curvy family.  But when her “perfect” – quote, unquote – brother falls from grace and the family is propelled into crisis mode, Virginia is forced to reevaluate everything.  She ultimately learns to feel good about herself, even to celebrate herself, as she is, without losing weight, without hurting her body.
Over the years, I have gotten hundreds of letters and emails from teenage girls who have read The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.  They tell me that they, like Virginia, have always felt lousy about themselves.  But after they read my book they were inspired to take control.  They tell me that my book helped them stop hating their bodies.  They tell me they were depressed or bulimic or cutting themselves and my book encouraged them to get help.  They tell me that The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things was the first book they’ve ever completed and now they’re passionate about reading, and they tell me that this book was their sole support as their father was dying, and it showed them that even though times are tough there will be brighter days in the future.

And yet The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things is frequently banned from schools and libraries.  I write about teenagers as they are, and my characters sometimes curse, and they hook up, and they confront their parents when they feel they are being wronged.  This, I suppose, is upsetting to people who don’t want their child exposed to these things.  While I sincerely doubt that my book will be someone’s only exposure to such content, I respect a parent’s wishes for their children.  Their children, I emphasize.  Not everyone else’s.
This is what I think about when The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things is removed from libraries.  I think about all the letters I’ve received from readers, and I wonder about the teenagers who will never have access to my book.  And I wonder if, because of this, they’re going to feel that much more alone.
As soon as I read this piece by Mackler I ran to my computer to see if nay of my copies of the book were in.  Nope.  It's been a good week for banned books at GKHS and both copies were checked out.  Now I will have to wait my turn.

Ray Bradbury author of Fahrenheit 451 found in the Coda of the book:

...I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from [Fahrenheit 451]. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. ("Coda" 1979)
Books don't have to be banned to be rendered useless.  Just edit all the bad bits out and leave behind the milk toast. Blah!  Or as Bradbury says: "There is more than one way to burn a book."

Judy Blume, one of the most frequently banned or censored authors, reminds us that parents can help avoid the need for censorship merely by talking to their kids:
"Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear.”

Thank you Judy for all you've done for young women and for all of us in terms of understand the dangers of censorship!


  1. Great post! My son's 11th grade American Lit class is reading Fahrenheit 451 this year. Bradbury is one of my favorite authors - I think I read every book of his in my public library when I was a teen!


  2. Thanks for visiting my blog and I'm happy to have found yours! I absolutely love Fahrenheit 451, and Forever (and most of Blume's books) was a really important book when I was a girl. I'm happy so many people are remembering it this week! I wonder what kind of relevance it has for girls today?

  3. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things is one of my favorite books!!

    P.S. I tagged you, click here!!

  4. In addition to the Speak ban, another Missouri town "successfully" banned The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I don't have a link for you--I read about it via an NCTE newsletter, but it shouldn't be that hard to look up. Rest assured that my home state isn't all that wacky...


  5. Hi Anne, thanks for stopping by my blog! In regards to your question, yes, Scarlett Fever and its prequel are both appropriate for public high school libraries. They're both fun and entertaining and I'm sure most students will get a kick out of them!

  6. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I can't find a contact email on your site, so I am commenting on this post. About The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard- I think that high schoolers could like it - there is a lesbian relationship that is portrayed in it - just so you are aware - but high schoolers are reading all sorts of stuff that is "adult" in content. As for your post on my Blog hop....don't be discouraged. Sometimes I feel just like you, but I guess I try to make myself feel better by reminding myself that I am blogging for me. I would love to have a ton of followers, but I am slowly adding followers and trying to be realistic about the fact that blogging is a hobby and cannot take over my whole life.


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