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.