Monday, September 20, 2010

Speak Up

In my Children's Literature class (I fondly call it "kiddie lit") this week we are reading Speak, a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. This is a dark story of the rape of a young high school girl and her emotional response to the horrifying event. The book is the child of the New Realism movement in children's literature.

Emotionally, the book is at times difficult to read, but it is well worth reading regardless of your age. In addition to the topic of rape, it covers such issues as depression, underage drinking, bullying, and parental alienation. Not once while reading Speak did it occur to me that the book might be pornographic or inappropriate for young readers.

I bring this up because a local professor wrote a letter to our newspaper decrying the use of the book in high school English classes because it is pornographic. The school district in question has recently banned another children's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a book which I have not read.

While I respect a parents right to monitor their children's reading material, I don't believe that right should extend to other peoples children or to an entire school district. It is my hope that people will read the book and decide its value for themselves rather than take someone elses opinion as gospel. Censorship should not be an option.


E. Sheppard said...

I totally agree with you. The books that were banned yesterday are sometimes the books teachers and students are reading today as classics. People need to make up their own minds about books before automatically banning them.

Studentmum said...

Ok, schools shouldn't use books that are not academically suitable - but to ban them!!! I don't know of any books in the UK that are banned. My daughters went to a church primary school and both Narnia & The Dark Materials Trilogy were on the library shelves!

Caz said...

Unfortunately, those are issues children are faced with more and more today. What some may think is pornographic, seems to be nothing to today's teens. Even the movie ratings seem to be moving further and further away from what I think is appropriate. Children today are becoming so desensitised but honestly, in this day and age, we need to be really blunt about those subjects (drinking, bullying, rape etc). They can't be hidden.

Nicki said...

Hey there! Newly following you. Taking the advice of the Non-Traditional Student Blog! Can't wait to read your entries!

Nicki said...

What annoys me is that they can deem that book inappropriate and ban it yet they can make my kids read books in class that I prefer they don't least not without me so we can talk about it together. The school systems doing the parenting is really bothering me! I do want to read this book. Thanks for posting about it! I took Kiddie Lit too and loved it! I loved Beatie Bow!!

Brandywine said...

Welcome Nicki! I have never heard of Beatie Bow, but I have never heard of lots of the books mentioned in this class.
It seems that schools either ban books outright because of a complaints from a couple of parents, or they leave the parents out altogether, no middle ground.

Yes, Studentmum, we even have an entire week devoted to banned books. This is the week when the merits of banning books are debated and the books in question are frequently read publicly.

Caz, kids are faced with too much, probably especially in movies. I think books provide good opportunites for discussion between parents and teens.

E., this whole controvesy has opened up a can of worms in the community. Probably more people have read the book now than had ever heard of it before!