George was an adventurer. Born into a family of naturalists, she spent much of her time camping near the Potomac River, observing the local flora and fauna, and learning valuable wilderness skills. Her love of nature and the hours spent exploring the outdoors eventually inspired over 100 books, including 1960 Newberry Honor, My Side of the Mountain, and 1973 Newberry winner Julie of the Wolves.
Each time I read one, I asked myself, “What makes her books so compelling?” It could be her writing, with its fast-paced plot lines peppered with thoroughly researched details. It could be the twist endings, which keep me on edge as I read up until the very last page. But mostly, I think it’s the way she fearlessly tackles difficult, hard-to-grasp topics: abortion, teen suicide, faith, rape, euthanasia, racism, school shootings, LGBTQ+ rights.
Banned books are an important and radical way to continue that growth and development. When a book is banned or challenged, it shines a light on issues that our society would rather be kept in the dark.
Dr. Angelou’s words urge us all to push past our fears, our anger, our hate. To find freedom in the good, the kind, the welcoming. To embrace our neighbor, both human and the world. To rise and feel the pulse of a new day.
Whether or not it contained the criminalization aspect, this bill, had it been voted into law, would essentially be red flagging books that contained potentially obscene content. Who would be responsible for policing which books are considered obscene? The decisions would be purely subjective, based on the opinions of parents and community members. And how obscene would it need to be to require consent/legal action?
Each article in the Library Bill of Rights is important, but I’m always drawn to this particular article for that phrase. “To provide information and enlightenment”. It is essential that parents and educators understand that to be fully informed, enlightened citizens in our society, our children must be exposed to a diverse array of viewpoints and ideas, not just those that fit within a certain ideology.
Today, December 15, 2018, we celebrate the 227th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Bill of Rights Day on this day in 1941 to honor and observe the preservation of our individual rights.
These characters were real and flawed. They grappled with moral issues. And yet, they fought hard for justice and saved the day. Their victories showed readers that they, too, could be a hero, standing up to evil and protecting the innocent, and that they didn’t have to be perfect to do so.
It also demonstrates cowardice and intolerance. If you disagree with someone’s viewpoint, you should have the courage and respect to share and discuss the reasons behind your beliefs. And more importantly, you should have the courage and respect to listen to ideas other than your own.
Today is Laurie Halse Anderson’s 57th birthday. Speak, her debut, often-censored, and enduring novel still sits with me, almost 20 years later.