Banned Book Week 2010

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Banned Book Week 2010

Postby Sommer Leigh » 09 Sep 2010, 20:37

Banned Book Week 2010 is coming up, September 25 and October 2, and one of my favorite book bloggers, Steph Su at: http://stephsureads.blogspot.com/ is hosting a Banned Book Week Reading Challenge that I've signed up to be a part of. There are already quite a few other bloggers signed up and I think it is going to be an exciting month of books and conversations about books.

Here's a link to her challenge: http://stephsureads.blogspot.com/2010/08/introducing-banned-books-reading.html

So I'm curious what other events are taking place on blogs, websites, in your local libraries, schools, and book shops? It feels like this topic is pretty strong right now, particularly after what happened in Humble, Texas with Ellen Hopkins.

If any of you are doing anything special for Banned Book Week, please share! This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. My husband is a high school English teacher and we discuss books, book challenges and parent reactions all the time. I hate the idea of kids not being allowed access to books or a parent being denied the ability to decide for their own kid what is appropriate and what isn't. As someone who very much wants to publish books for teens, I can't imagine what the authors themselves go through when their books are challenged or banned. I can imagine few things worse than being told not only will kids not be allowed access to your book, but that it has been judged inappropriate and damaging to them.

The 7 books and 1 short story I've chosen to read for the Banned Book Week Reading Challenge are:

* The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
* The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
* Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
* Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway
* The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
* The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
* Feed by M.T. Anderson
* Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

The post I'm keeping track of reviews, reactions, discussions as I read these books is here if anyone is interested: http://sommerleigh.com/?p=1089
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby Mira » 10 Sep 2010, 12:29

Sommer - all of this information is wonderful! I'll need to think more about this, but I really appreciate that you brought up the topic. It's an extremely important one!
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby Matthew MacNish » 11 Sep 2010, 15:11

This is good to know! I hadn't heard a thing about it until now, so thanks so much for the heads up Sommer.
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby Sommer Leigh » 12 Sep 2010, 11:03

Thanks guys! I'm glad you like hearing about it.

A high school librarian friend of mine is doing a banned book week push this month to his kids.

Another blog, Lit Bites, is doing some banned book week stuff. (Also one of the coolest looking sites and most honest book review sites I've been to) http://litbites.blogspot.com/2010/08/ban-this-2010.html
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby Sommer Leigh » 12 Sep 2010, 15:53

One more blogger!

Love YA Lit ( http://loveyalit.com/?p=752 ) is collecting reviews of banned books from other bloggers and is giving away a pretty cool banned book/tote/goodies giveaway at the end of the month. Nora and Em have a great blog with a beautiful design. There is something very refreshing about them.
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby ocelott » 12 Sep 2010, 20:45

Genre Reviews is hosting a Banned Books Week contest. Blog entry with the contest info is here.
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby cheekychook » 13 Sep 2010, 12:50

I was just wondering if there was a thread about banned books week yet!

Here's the link to the info about the week itself:

http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm

And here's a link to some of the most frequently banned books (might I note that many of my faves are on this list), in case you're looking for some reading suggestions:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-commonly_challenged_books_in_the_United_States

Happy banned book reading, all!
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby Sommer Leigh » 20 Sep 2010, 18:57

Alright, I just want to apologize because I'm about to get a little punchy, but as writers and readers I thought maybe if everyone hadn't heard about this particularly shocking, horrifying book challenge unraveling today then I should bring it up here since not everyone is a YA reader and may not have heard about it. It's tense, but it is important.


On my list of banned books I wanted to read was SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Sunday I finally picked it up and read about 3/4ths of it while I should have been going to bed. (What, 1am?!?! How the BLEEP did that happen?) Monday morning I'm sucking down a white chocolate mocha, a little bleary-eyed from my whole 4 hours of sleep, and reading through weekend blog posts I didn't catch. And Speak is EVERYWHERE on every author and book blogger's feed I read (And many I don't because I can't stop with the click-throughs.) And it is clear that I've missed something important happening.

And only a few days away from Banned Book Week, a man named Wesley Scroggins has come out against Speak, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. And we're not just talking about banning these books from school children, he comes right out and calls them filthy and immoral. He calls Speak soft pornography.

I've been like a tornado of fury all day long. Anyone standing still long enough has heard my anger. It's because this isn't some concerned parents worried about a bunch of swear words. Speak, for those of you who haven't read it, is about a 9th grade girl who is raped at a party over the summer. When she gets to school, not only does she have to see this boy every day, she also endures bullying from the kids who got busted when she called the cops on the party, and complete abandonment from her friends who don't want to be associated with her reputation and depression. The book is about the emotional torment as it slowly destroys her by first stealing her ability to speak about what has happened to her and then the ability to speak about anything. It is not glamorous, it is not sexy. The scene isn't detailed like some bodice ripper for adults, it happens through the eyes of a terrified girl who tries very hard to bury the memory and disappear into the world forever.

It is not an easy book and it isn't for everyone. But it isn't pornography and I'm furious at this man for basically telling all teenage girls who have endured the same horrifying ordeal that their experience, their story, is filthy and immoral. These are the kind of calls for banning that make me crazy. Maybe it's not a story for him, maybe it's not a story for his kids. But it is a story for someone. It's wrong on so many levels to deny a story to someone who needs it. Because Melinda? The main character of Speak? She finds a way to start putting the pieces back together. By the end she's not whole, but you can see the path she's on can get her there. And I have a feeling there are plenty of kids and adults alike who need to know that it is possible.

I just wanted to bring this to the boards, to people who might want to know. I finished Speak today and it is a beautiful, heartbreaking book and I love how authors and readers are climbing out of their blogs all over the internet to talk about the way Speak makes them feel, and everyone is screaming for everyone else to SPEAK LOUDLY against the banning of this book, against the banning of any book, by people who aren't reading a book for the story but instead reading it for the potential platform. The way the YA author community comes together is one of the reasons I want to be a part of it. What is done to one of us is done to all of us, and the show of support, the honesty, the heartbreaking posts by authors with stories everyone is afraid to share but stories no one is keeping silent. SPEAK LOUDLY has become a blogosphere mantra and it makes me swell with pride.

Below I'm including some links of responses. Some of them are very gutsy and some of them are really hard to read. And I applaud each and everyone author and blogger who has come out with their story and their push back against this particular challenge. The show of support is kind of amazing. If you see #speakloudly cropping up on Twitter updates, now you know what it means.

The opinion article that started everything: http://www.news-leader.com/article/20100918/OPINIONS02/9180307/Scroggins-Filthy-books-demeaning-to-Republic-education
Laurie Halse Anderson: http://madwomanintheforest.com/this-guy-thinks-speak-is-pornography/
Sarah Ockler (who is giving away prize packs of the 3 books): http://sarahockler.com/blog/
Stephanie Perkins: http://naturalartificial.blogspot.com/2010/09/speak-loudly-mockingbirds-giveaway.html
CJ Redwine (Very personal response, very heartbreaking.) http://cjredwine.blogspot.com/2010/09/speaking-out.html
Veronica Roth: http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/2010/09/christian-take-on-banning-speak.html
The First Novels Club: (Also giveaway to get Speak into everyone's hands) http://www.firstnovelsclub.com/2010/09/speakloudly-giveaway-x-posted.html
Teacher Magazine: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/book_whisperer/2010/09/literature_is_our_network_spea.html
Saundra Mitchell (Also very personal): http://saundramitchell.com/blog/?p=3741
Tahleen Reads: http://tahleenreads.blogspot.com/2010/09/another-ugly-case-of-attempted.html
Myra McEntire: http://writingfinally.blogspot.com/

Thanks for listening everyone. By the way, I've read Twenty Boy Summer too (very sad and awesome book that deals with first loves and teen death) and his comment on that book is as equally ridiculous. I have not yet read Slaughterhouse Five. I have a love/hate relationship with Vonnegut, but I'm willing to put that aside to see what all the fuss is about.
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby Mira » 22 Sep 2010, 17:32

Sommer, I just realized that I never said anything to your last post. I had no idea this was going on, and I find it equally disturbing. I thought your post was moving and passionate. That's what's so interesting about this. It seems like there has been a huge outpouring of support and outrage - which is great. It may be the internet and the building community of YA authors is fostering a collective 'voice'.

Which is great. It seems to me the fight against banned books is not strong enough. There needs to be a powerful voice for freedom of speech and access, because the voice for banning books tends to be powerful and very certain of itself.
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby Sommer Leigh » 22 Sep 2010, 17:48

Mira wrote:Sommer, I just realized that I never said anything to your last post. I had no idea this was going on, and I find it equally disturbing. I thought your post was moving and passionate. That's what's so interesting about this. It seems like there has been a huge outpouring of support and outrage - which is great. It may be the internet and the building community of YA authors is fostering a collective 'voice'.

Which is great. It seems to me the fight against banned books is not strong enough. There needs to be a powerful voice for freedom of speech and access, because the voice for banning books tends to be powerful and very certain of itself.


Thank you Mira! Book banning is something I am very passionate about. When I was in junior high school I had a librarian at a public library deny me access to checking out a book. I wish I could remember the book, I think it was a Judy Blume book but I honestly can't remember. She told me I needed to go home and have a real talk with my parents about what was and wasn't appropriate for me. She lectured me in front of others waiting at the counter as if I were trying to check out pornography. She was pretty vocal and made me feel ashamed about my book choice. I wasn't even trying to check out anything all that shocking, so I can't imagine being a young girl (or boy) wanting to check out a book with complicated issues and being told not just no, but that you should be ashamed of yourself for even wanting to. (Not to mention shaming the author for having wrote it!!!!)

There's an awesome post by Reclusive Bibliophile here: http://www.reclusivebibliophile.com/hell-hath-no-fury-like-the-book-community-scorned with a massive list of all the posts and articles written in the last 3 days about this event. 3 days!!! I can't even believe it has only been going on for 3 days and yet the show of support for Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Ockler, and Kurt Vonnegut has been just mind blowing. I think that the above post hits it pretty well by naming her post "Hell hat no fury like a book community scorned."

Sarah Ockler posted a pretty great video blog here in thanks and in response to the event: http://www.thecontemps.com/2010/09/hot-topic-tuesday-speak-loudly-against.html
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby Mira » 24 Sep 2010, 09:03

Great links, Sommer. I appreciate your story. It never occured to me there was a shame element involved with trying to read a banned book. I grew up and live in fairly liberal cities, so I've never had to really deal with that. That's a very insidious part to this - making kids and people feel ashamed of their reading choices. And July Blume! That's just wrong. She's a very helpful writer for pre-teens especially. I remember reading her when I was that age, and it really helped me through a rough time.
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby One of the Mad Ones » 24 Sep 2010, 11:40

Banning books has never made much sense to me. What's on TV and in music and movies is often way worse than what's found in books that are accessible to young people. For one thing, it takes a certain reading level at the very least to gain access to "mature" books. By the time most kids can read at that level, they've already been exposed in one way or another to offensive or age-inappropriate content elsewhere. Then there's the fact that they'd have to know where to find stuff that's further on the mature end and unavailable in a school library. I'm not saying kids don't get curious and read above their emotional maturity sometimes, but if they're interested in the first place, they are probably dealing with lots of questions that are completely normal and that often they can't ask adults. It's entirely normal for kids to figure out the world in this way. Considering dropping literacy rates, it's not so terrible that there still even are kids who can access this material...
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Re: Banned Book Week 2010

Postby maybegenius » 30 Sep 2010, 08:51

A big group of people are posting reviews of banned books over at Grab A Pen - check it out! :)

The master list is at the bottom of that entry.
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