If you think we live in a world where a celebration of the freedom to read freely is an anachronism...ancient history...a problem long solved, you are sadly mistaken. I've posted about this ad naseum, I know. But censorship just won't die. It keeps raising its ugly head.
Laure Halse Anderson's young adult novel, Speak, has been called "pornography" by a man in Missouri, Wesley Scroggins, who is looking to remove it from classrooms and school libraries.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
For those who haven't read Anderson's novel, it is the story of a girl who is raped in the summer before she enters her freshman year of high school. She spends her freshman year struggling with the physical, psychological, and social aftermath. She struggles to find her voice so she can SPEAK about what happened to her.
Because of the two rape scenes in the book, Scroggins says the book is filthy and immoral. Anderson responded better than I could when she says:
Click here to read Laurie Halse Anderson's entire post on the issue. She includes links for her readers and supporters to speak loudly against Scroggins' efforts.
The fact that he sees rape as sexually exciting (pornographic) is disturbing, if not horrifying. It gets worse, if that’s possible, when he goes on to completely mischaracterize the book.
My students love this book. Anderson writes realistic fiction with which real teenagers identify. (Heck...I identified with it. I know the teachers she creates in this book. I am one of them.) Anderson SPEAKs to teenage readers, especially a certain kind of reluctant reader. Our library almost always has a waiting list for this book, and we have multiple copies. Kids are lining up to read it.
I want to shake people who advocate pulling high-interest books off the shelf. Their political/religious/social agenda is more important than creating a society of readers and thinkers. They are the modern day equivalent of High Inquisitors.
Even worse than the potential loss of a high-interest book is the potential loss of a book that might help a kid who has been raped. Anderson wrote an amazing poem pulled almost entirely from the letters of kids who have read her book. I've pulled the video from her blog. It's powerful, and it demonstrates that books can give kids the courage to SPEAK and to heal.