Now I am An Adult and I get to choose whatever I want when I see all those interesting looking books on the shelf! But honestly? My Mom was extremely open-minded and never, ever told me that any book was off-limits or inappropriate. She had lots of great qualities but this is one of the things that I think made her an Outstanding Parent, that she was let me read whatever and whenever I wanted. In fact, I was one of those kids other parents might have been annoyed with after sharing my copy of Forever by Judy Blume… Oh, well. Still not sorry about that other kids’ parents! But this also part of my point. If reading this book is supposed to lead kids astray, then how do you explain so many kids in one community reading this radical book but – to the best of my knowledge – none of us became troubled teens? It can be such a relief to read a book to gain knowledge through your own life experience or, even more importantly, so that you know you are not alone in that experience.
All of this is leading up to what inspired me to write about this topic today. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is an incredible book and should be read both boy and girl teens, along with the adult in their lives, so that a tough topic can be approached with a common understanding. I was talking about this book with a High School Librarian who said the small book discussion that took place after the teens read Speak was one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking discussions she’d ever heard. What a gift that is! But this book is regularly challenged and the most current attack on this book strikes me as particularly harsh. A man in Missouri is trying to label Speak as “soft pornography” and nothing could be further from the truth. Ms. Anderson posted a response on her blog with links to the opinion piece he submitted to his local newspaper and links to four different avenues of response, if you should choose to get involved.
Doesn’t this seem very un-American, attempting to limit access to information and trying to prevent other people from making their own decisions about what to read? I think so, but I’m also willing to let you come to your own conclusions. If you *are* a fan of the First Amendment, if you believe books should never be banned because they make you think or feel something unfamiliar or uncomfortable, please join me in reading a banned or challenged book this week! Okay? Okay!