Thursday, September 30, 2010

banned books week #speakloudly

this week is banned books week. i have posted about this before, so you probably know that i think banning books is ridiculous. the most recent incident of this that made the news (at least the news that i pay attention to) was in missouri. a man wrote a 20-something page letter to the school board of his county about any number of things, including the history and science curriculum, but what was most talked about was his accusations that the english teachers that were assigning their kids to read speak by laurie halse anderson were promoting pornography and teenage drunkeness etc.

(this next paragraph prolly contains spoilers)

first, the book (also a lifetime movie featuring none other than everyone's favorite vampire lover kristin stewart) is about a girl who is at a party with her firend at the end of junior year and is raped by a popular guy. she calls the cops who bust up the party, but never tells anyone about the rape. everyone hates her because they think she randomly called the police. she goes through senior year as an outcast, and finally works up the courage to express herself through art and speak up about what happened to her.

that is the super simplified version - the book is absolutely amazing. seriously, go read it (or anythign else by laurie halse anderson for that matter). bascially this dude in missouri thinks that by having a scene in the book where teenagers are at a party drinking that it will cause teenagers to go party and drink. now i wasnt into that at all in high school but i know plenty of people  are/were. and i highly doubt that any of them got the idea to do a keg stand or whatever from reading a book. just a thought. also, equating rape with porn is messed up. although i know that some people have strange and out there fantasies, including the rape of a teenage girl in the same category is just wrong.

so what does it all mean?

well, if you are a parent, you have the right to watch over your kids and keep tabs on them. i think that if the kid wants to read, let them, but that's me the voracious reader talking. if a kid wants to read something that a parent objects to, maybe the parent should (shocker!) have a conversation with their kid about what is in the book (or movie or tv show or wahtever) that they disagree with. i think open and honest conversations are a lot more likely to prevent kids from partying or doing drugs or having sex or doing whatever the objectionable thing is. keeping them from reading a book that mentions it probably isnt going to do the trick.

what do you think?

do you think keeping kids from reading stuff is important?

just a side note - i dont disagree with making grade level appropriate choices for kids in general. obviously you arent going to give a copy of speak to a first grader. however, some kids are more mature than others. i read gone with ithe wind in fifth grade and that book has all kinds of adult themes and potentially objectionable things in it, but it was handled appropriately. i didnt go buy a slave or start using the "n word" just because i read that book. in middle school i read a christian series of books where the main characters held hands and (gasp) kissed and i think she might have even snuck out of the house and ran away. did i do any of those things? no. (well, obviously i have held hands and kissed a boy now, duh, but i didnt do it in middle school!)

anyways, take it for what you will, but if youve read twilight, youve read a banned book. or to kill a mockingbird. or huckleberry finn. or a separate peace (required reading at trinity in my day). so go read another one.

better yet, go buy a banned book. use your purchasing power to show that you think banning books is as silly as i do. go buy speak. you wont regret it.

check out these articles for other's take on banned books week and the debacle in missouri.

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