ALA's Banned Books Week might be officially over, but unfortunately, censorship is not. Just because Banned Books Week has drifted off on a cold breeze, it doesn't mean an adult won't challenge a book for "inappropriate content." It doesn't mean a book will be safe on the shelves. It also means there's still a chance a child or teen might miss out on a book that could have a huge impact on his or her life. That's why it's important for everyone to realize that just because Banned Books Week is over, the fight isn't.
That's exactly the point of ALA's Banned Books Week--to remind us all of the censorship that does occur throughout the year and how we need to celebrate the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.
Just because a book might be unorthodox or unfamiliar to an adult, I hope they stop to realize that they have the option to not buy it . It would be unfortunate for them to take the book off the shelves because that book might be just the medicine a trouble teen needs.
Ellen Hopkins, who was recently disinvited from TeenLitFest (which was canceled) wrote an article about her books and how they do explore tough subject matter such as addiction, abuse, thoughts of suicide, teen prostitution. "But they bring young adult readers a middle-aged author's broader perspective," Hopkins says. "They show outcomes to choices, offer understanding. And each is infused with hope. I don't sugarcoat, but neither is the content gratuitous. Something would-be censors could only know if they'd actually read the books rather than skimming for dirty words or sexual content."
Fortunately, we do have Banned Books Weeks to bring the issue to the forefront. And although some of the books featured during Banned Books Week have been banned or restricted, in a majority of cases other books were not, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.
Laurie Halse Anderson stresses that even though some people will be tempted to tuck the issue away, there are still ways to get involved. Anderson says, "I think the best place for those of you who want to continue the discussion about censorship and First Amendment issues is over at SpeakLoudly.org."
Hopefully for the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, we all continue to speak loudly.
On a side note--Hope everyone can join me today on my virtual book tour for The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade. I'm over at Donna M. McDine's blog, Write What Inspires You, with a guest post on another issue facing children's literature--"Sailing the Rough Seas of the Picture Book Market." Hope you can stop by. I'd love to hear your thoughts!