Today is Laurie Halse Anderson’s 57th birthday. Speak, her debut, often-censored, and enduring novel still sits with me, almost 20 years later.
However, as with any banned book, it’s these books that make us uncomfortable, that cause us to dig deep and think about ourselves and about the people around us feel, that are most important to be widely available.
However, I’d argue that one of the reasons our country doesn’t experience these dangerous laws is because of the perpetuation of the importance of intellectual freedom by hardworking librarians. I believe the reason we have access to and the freedom to read all books, even controversial ones, is, in part, because of awareness campaigns like Banned Books Week.
By: Rebecca Slocum It’s that time again: August. Back to school. Pencils, markers, crayons line the store shelves. Backpacks and lunchboxes of all different styles and characters have been selected. […]
Addressing the issue as a community allows for open and effective communication and gives students the opportunity to understand and ask questions about what is likely a confusing topic for them. Many of these students have probably already either experienced firsthand or have heard about an incident of police violence, and like it or not, they are already actively paying attention to and attempting to understand the important issues our nation is facing and their role in such situations. It is important for educators— ALL educators – to guide them through that process.
We, as librarians and information specialists, can use our skills and our platform as a center of the community to educate our patrons about the immigrant experience and what it means for children and families to leave behind everything familiar for an unknown country.
And then I read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. You know it. You probably read it in middle school or high school as required reading. You probably giggled over those passages where Anne discuses her body. But what struck me most about this remarkable book is the, in many instances, complete normality of the teenage experience.
Recently, Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) released its reading list for the 2018-2019 school year. On this list is the award winning middle grade novel George by Alex Gino. The story centers around a young transgender child, George, who was born a boy but knows she is a girl. The book tackles the difficult, and too often undiscussed, situations and emotions a young transgender child might experience. Many parents in Oregon have taken issue with this selection, saying that the book is not appropriate for the grade level for which it was chosen.
Setting aside the fact that it’s just rude, rescinding an author’s invitation to speak because the content of their book is controversial is, in fact, censorship. The physical book may not be off the shelf, but the author’s message is still being stifled. One person is making a choice for the entire school community, that what this author has to say is not of value.
Part of the Librarians Lead Against Censorship blog series. Issues like censorship can feel big and overwhelming. My advice would be that there is always, always, something that you can do. Change what you can, where you can, when you can. Because if we don’t, who will?