Case in point, last year Laurie Halse Anderson's award-winning book SPEAK was challenged by a college professor who called the book "soft porn." When I told students about that today, one boy said he read the book last year and he didn't even know what was happening in the rape scene because it was such a mild description, certainly not soft porn. Did the college professor even read the book, or did he just read a few passages out of context? Read Anderson's response to that challenge here in the September 23, 2010 issue of National , a web magazine.
Among the books I introduced today was Sherman Alexie's fabulous book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. I get all agitated when I think about how often this book is challenged/banned. It is one of the best YA books ever written. After my presentation all five copies of the book were checked out immediately.
Last year the Richland, Washington School Board decided to remove The Absolutely True Diary from all grades not just their 9th grade reading list by a 3-2 vote.Two months later, after receiving a joint letter from several anti-censorship organizations (See Kids Rights to Read Project), the same board reversed their vote because one of the members, Donahoe, read the book in the meantime and found the book "outstanding."
The book is based on Alexie's own upbringing on the Spokane reservation and his attending school in nearby Reardan, a predominantly white farming town. The book's 14-year-old protagonist struggles with poverty, racism and death.'Those themes, and particularly the main character's perseverance in the face of these challenges, bear important lessons for students,' Donahoe said. 'When I'm voting a book out of the classroom, I'm denying parents the right to choose to have that book read by their students,' he said. -NewsTribuneI'm glad that Donahoe reversed his vote to ban this book, but why did he vote NO in the first place? I'm afraid that that happens more often than not. Individuals in a position to vote for/against book banning base their votes on feedback from others without reading the book themselves.
Think for yourself and let others do the same!