Kate Messner’s Wish

Censorship, School Libraries, Self-Censorship
Building dark worlds to make a better one: Kate Messner at TED2012
Kate Messner at TED2012. Long Beach, CA. Photo: James Duncan Davidson http://blog.ted.com/building-dark-worlds-to-make-a-better-one-kate-messner-at-ted2012/

 

It was supposed to be a good day. With less then 24 hours before her scheduled school visit, on the day the book was released, author Kate Messner received an email canceling her event. She shares her story on her blog and facebook page. We asked Kate if we could share her story and perspectives on censorship and selection.

June 7, 2016

A Blog Post I Never Thought I’d be Writing on Book Release Day

“I was told today that the principal felt the book and my presentation about the writing process behind it would generate many questions that they would not be able to adequately answer and discuss.”

June 8, 2016

Getting the Books to the Kids

“This morning, when I stopped by Phoenix Books in Burlington, I learned that the school not only cancelled my visit but also returned all of the books it had ordered for the school library.

Every. Last. Copy.”

“So I stopped by the Community Library in South Burlington, donated a copy of THE SEVENTH WISH, explained what had happened, and asked if the library might be willing to host me later this month so that families whose visit was cancelled could come. Children’s librarian Meg Paquette was wonderful. She whisked me into a back office, found a date for the event, and booked the space.

I’ll be speaking at the South Burlington Community Library on June 28th at 4pm.”

June 10, 2016

Remember Who We Serve: Some thoughts on book selection and omission

“I also got an email this morning from a school librarian in another state, who said she wanted to offer me a different perspective on THE SEVENTH WISH.  She wrote:

As a huge super fan of yours I did want to offer a new perspective of The Seventh Wish. It was on my book order list before I even read what it was about. However, after reading the description, I too sadly had to remove it.

She says I’m one of the favorite authors in her K-5 library. They have all of my other books, and they fly off the shelves. But this one won’t be added to the collection. She continued:

It’s not that I don’t think heroin addiction is extremely important. Our community has faced its share of heartbreaking stories in regards to drug abuse but fourth and fifth graders are still so innocent to the sad drug world. Even two years from now when they’re in sixth grade this book will be a wonderful and important read but as a mother of a fourth grader, I would never give him a book about heroin because he doesn’t even know what that is. I just don’t think that at 10 years old he needs to worry about that on top of all of the other things he already worries about… For now, I just need the 10 and 11-year-olds biggest worry to be about friendships, summer camps, and maybe their first pimple or two.”

June 11, 2016

The Seventh Wish Update: Some good news and a continuing conversation…

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can all do a better job supporting librarians and teachers who want to provide kids more access to books but are worried about pushback, so I proposed that this librarian and I start a conversation about this. We have some real disagreements about what kinds of books belong in a K-5 library, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be able to disagree respectfully, listen to one another, and try to brainstorm solutions. So we’re going to try that, and we’re inviting you to join the conversation, too. ”

June 14, 2016

An Important Conversation about Elementary Library Book Selection & Omission

I am getting nervous to publish this conversation because what I am reading in the comments makes me sound like I am some unreasonable book banning conservative and I’m not. People are pulling out tiny excerpts from what I have written and painting me in a light I am not at all comfortable with. I am simply a teacher that looks at her entire population and makes the best decision I can in everyone’s best interest. Everything I put into this library could possibly be read by any K-5 student and I take that responsibility very seriously. When I read the comments on your blog today from the two moms who are grateful for my decisions then I feel validated. Your blog is going to contain your fans that most certainly agree with you. The majority of teachers and parents might agree with me but they aren’t going to be out there writing about it.”

June 17, 2016

Remember Who We Serve: Finding solutions, moving forward, and some food for thought

“Many agree that the answer lies in education – explaining to parents that a library serves a wide range of readers, and while every parent has a right to guide their own children’s reading, none have the right to make those decisions for anyone else’s child. Teaching children how to select books for themselves is also key – advising them about how to choose an appropriate book and how to bring that book back if it turns out not to be the “just right” book they hoped it might be, so that they can choose something else.”

2 comments

  • I agree with the librarian 100% and believe she is making the right decision for the children in her ELEMENTARY school. This book might be appropriate in a middle school library. Let’s respect the right of the librarian to make the choices for her school. If the library wanted to have 1 or 2 copies of the book available behind the desk so that if a counselor or teacher felt a child might benefit from reading the book, let that be an option.

    I don’t expect the public school library to be my child’s only source of books. We go to the public library and also purchse books. I want my daughter to read books about Catholic saints. Should I require the public school library to have those books? No, and I suspect many of the people who are commenting on this thread would be appalled that anyone would suggest that religious books should be in a public school library. I buy those books for her because it is important to our family.

    Thank you, librarian for making the right decision for your school community.

  • Why not keep the book in the library, but put a content warning on it or something, or have a separate section for “Tough Stuff” books?

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