Banned Books Week may have come and gone, but censorhip never really goes away. Here’s a video from Penguin Books in which authors–some of my favorites and some of yours, too–speak out against the censorship they have experienced.
Which books by these authors have you read? What would you say to speak out against censorship?
If you are looking for a smart, funny writer and quirky characters that worm their way inside your brain, look no further than John Green. I loved An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns. I am thankful for the students who introduced me to this writer and his books. I haven’t yet read Looking for Alaska that this clip is from, but it’s on my TBR pile, along with Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Also check out his YouTube channel with his brother, the Vlog Brothers.
I grew up reading books by Judy Blume from Superfudge to Deenie, from Blubber to Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret. I am thrilled when my students today pick up her books and can’t put them down. If you didn’t know, her books have been some of the most frequently challenged through the years. Here what she has to say about censorship and how it hurts children.
Ellen Hopkins’ books are intense, powerful, and controversial. Her stories, told in verse, confront some of the worst promblems teens can encounter and give a message of hope. Hear what she has to say about the impact of banned books on her as a writer.
Some people just don’t get what Banned Books Week is all about. Just because you don’t want to read a abook doesn’t mean someone else won’t enjoy it. As a teaching friend of mine (Mr. Paul Hankins) said, “Choosing for yourself is intellectual freedom. Choosing for someone else is censorship.”
Learn more from ALA’s Banned Book Week. Then take action. Read a banned book. Shake your head in disbelief. Then share the book and what you learned with someone else and speak out for books. Come back daily for clips from this year’s Virtual Read Out.
Today is the start of Banned Books Week. All across the country, books are threatened and readers lose out. Some of the books that have been challenged and removed from library and school shelves may surprise you.
Each day of Banned Books Week, I will share a video from the Virtual Read Out sponsored by ALA. You can subscribe to the channel on YouTube for more.
Today’s Virtual Read Out is from one of my favorite books in one of my favorite genres: The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Would you live in a perfect world (no hunger, no pain, no war, no disease, no conflict) if it meant you gave up the power to choose?
Sometimes young adult books address hard topics–drugs and alcohol, abuse and crime, eating disorders and cutting. Some of my students face this same hard stuff in their own lives. Sometimes when the right books drops into the hands of the right student, something powerful can happen as a book offers a lifeline. A student discovers that “I am not alone.” A student realizes that “someone gets where I’m coming from.” A student gains empathy and understanding for others.
I received three of these books last week. It all started when an adult complained to a library about Scars by Cheryl Rainfield and asked the library to remove it from their collection. To show support for Cheryl, another author, Beth Felbaum, hosted a giveaway of two books–Rainfield’s Scars and Fehlbaum’s Hope in Patience. I won the contest, and Beth was gracious enough to send me her first book, Courage in Patience, as well. They came in the mail last week, and once I started, I couldn’t put them down. I devoured one a day until I turned the last page. I want to share them with you. All three are powerful, intense stories.
Kendra is haunted by her hidden memories of sexual abuse. Through counseling, she is remember the crimes committed against her, but she can never see her abuser’s face. As the memories become stronger, so does the danger she is in. Her abuser is following her–threatening to kill her if she remembers and tells. Even though her mom is afraid to confront the truth, Kendra finds support from a variety of people: her counselor Carolyn, family friend Sandy, art teacher Mrs. Archer, and new friend Meghan. A gifted artist, Kendra paints the truth in her pictures. When everything gets to be too much, Kendra turns to cutting her arms to relieve the pain.
I meant to save Scars (WestSide Books, 2010) to read over Spring Break, but once I peeked at the first few pages, I couldn’t put it down. I read it straight through that evening. Cheryl Rainfield weaves tension through every page. Kendra jumps at every sound and constantly looks over her shoulder. The terror increases as the hidden abuser draws closer and closer right until the dramatic revelation. Even though Rainfield gives a close look at the devestation sexual abuse can cause, I found this to be a hopeful book in the end. Kendra is strong. She will inspire and give hope to readers that they can survive their tragegies, too.
Both Courage in Patience (Kunati, 2008) and Hope in Patience (WestSide Books, 2010) by Beth Fehlbaum tell the story of Ashley Asher. After years of escalating abuse by her stepfather, Ashley finally finds the courage (through the support of her theater teacher) to tell her mother what has been going on. Instead of providing safety and support, Ashley’s mother turns away and blames Ashley for destroying their family. Ashley begins a new life with the father she never knew (her parents divorced when she was a baby, and her father never made contact except for child support payments) and his new family. Unlike Ashley’s mother, her dad and stepmom are eager to build new relationships that provide safety and support. With their love and the work of a therapist, Ashley begins the difficult task of rebuilding her life.
Like a good Chris Crutcher novel, Beth Fehlbaum packs much into these two books: sexual abuse and survival and recovery are front and center, but she also tackles racism, religious bigotry, violence, censorship (of a Chris Crutcher novel, no less), homophobia, and the power of a dedicated teacher.
I found all three of these novel compelling reading. I am grateful that my parents were able to love and support me. I hurt for those children whose parents hurt instead of help them. I hope that each of them can find the support to grow and thrive. Just maybe, these books can help them feel less isolated point the way to adults who care.
What books have inspired you to make a difference in your life?
Last month I told you about my outrage over unfair accusations against one of the most powerful YA books I’ve ever read, Speakby Laurie Halse Anderson. Anderson’s book was not the only book unfairly accused; it was just the only book I had read. Yesterday, I received a copy of one of the other books under fire, Twenty Boy Summerby Sarah Ockler.
Oh my, once I started, I could not put it down. Ockler has written a beautiful book that plumbs the depths of grief and reemerges into life lived full again. This book will speak to anyone who has loved and lost, who has stood by a friend, who has yearned to seize the day. Ockler’s words sparkle like the pieces of brightly colored sea glass that appear and reappear throughout the story.
On her fifteenth birthday, Anna’s wish finally comes true. Her best guy friend Matt kisses her. For one month they keep their changing relationship a secret from their families, including Matt’s sister and Anna’s best friend Frankie. Matt makes Anna promise not to tell Frankie until he can talk with her first. He plans to tell Frankie during their annual family vacation to Zanzibar Beach, but he dies of an unknown heart defect just before they leave. Now Anna wonders how long she must keep her promise to keep their secret and how long she must remain faithful to a ghost.
Through the past year, Anna has bit her tongue while standing faithfully by Frankie through her grief. She has seen Frankie withdraw into silence and the emerge with a new personality–one that is ready to party on the outside but locked up on the inside. Now Anna is going to Zanzibar Beach with Frankie and her family for the Absolutely Best Summer Ever (A.B.S.E.) . Frankie is determined that they will meet twenty boys, one for each day they are on vacation. Anna reluctantly agrees, knowing she can never tell Frankie why she only wants the guy who is already dead. Once Anna meets Sam, she is torn between her memory of Matt and her attraction for Sam.
If you want to read a book that will break your heart and inspire to live life to its fullest, all in the same breath, pick up copy of Twenty Boy Summer today. What books have touched your life and heart? If you want to have those books that speak to your life and heart, SpeakLoudly.