Hot Topics: #speakloudly

Tomorrow is the last day of Banned Books Week. We hope you’ve been out there reading banned books and sharing them with other readers too. One of my favorite t-shirts is from the guys at Unshelved.

It’s fun to wear in public, because it confuses people. When asked, I tell them it means you should read something bad for you. So for me, as a kid in a very liberal environment, that was usually something below grade level or without “intellectual” challenge. For others, this might be comic books or romance novels or a young adult novel about a rape.

Author Laurie Halse Anderson made the entire children’s literature community proud this month as she stood up to the attempted censorship of her novel Speak. Not that I believe wannabe censors usually think through their actions, but it was perhaps it was not the best of decisions to try to silence a book about not being silent. Within a few hours of the start of the #speakloudly hashtag on Twitter, there were hundreds (if not thousands) of posts in support of the book. There has now been a New York Times blog post and a Guardian UK article about the hubbub. I don’t have access to sales figures, but I don’t think it’s a bad guess to say Speak has had quite a bump this month. So, professionally speaking—perhaps I “like” a good banning now and then.

Judy Blume is my idol. I read Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret 30 times (yes 30!) when I was a kid.  I read just about everything else as well. Between Judy and Nancy Drew, it’s really no surprise that I work in publishing. On her website, she says, “I believe that censorship grows out of fear, and because fear is contagious, some parents are easily swayed. Book banning satisfies their need to feel in control of their children’s lives. This fear is often disguised as moral outrage. They want to believe that if their children don’t read about it, their children won’t know about it. And if they don’t know about it, it won’t happen.”

Ethically, though, I think parents and other supposedly well-intentioned adults cause untold damage to their children and their potential as future adults. Whether it’s protecting them from sex, drugs, and rock ‘ n roll, or ruining their love of reading by forcing them to read Dickens over the summer (now, that’s a topic for another time), limiting anyone’s reading choices is both insulting and wrong. Hey, I’ve got an idea: why don’t you read the book with your child and explain your issues?  Maybe you could engage in a real discussion about the who they are and who you know they can be.

One of our authors is also excited to be challenged just in time for Banned Books Week. Dori Hillestad Butler blogged the fun earlier this week. Just in case you didn’t know, My Mom’s Having a Baby! tells it exactly the way it is, so we recently added a subtitle on our website and for online retailers as well: A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy. Hey, censors!  Come and get us!

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Hot Topics: #speakloudly

One thought on “Hot Topics: #speakloudly

  1. I am a survivor of childhood abuse and if books like SPEAK and Crutcher’s CHINESE HANDCUFFS had been around when I was going through all that it would have made my life a lot easier. Silence is the enemy. Silence is what allows abusers to flourish. And censorship enables this behavior. Writing is telling and the most important thing that victims need in order to become survivors is to tell and tell and tell some more. Books like SPEAK give life. Silence and censorship only promote isolation, pain and death.

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