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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

National Banned Books week and a Contest!!

Wow, did you know that September is the month that book banners unleash their narrow-minded opinions? I did not know this, you know, me thinking that October is the month when all nasties crawl out of the woodwork. You can imagine my shock and surprise to hear about the recent article denouncing one of my favorite YA books, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson.

In the article, Wesley Scroggins, a professor at Missouri State University and an affiliate of Reclaiming Missouri for Christ, calls Speak the equivalent of soft porn and deems it as unsuitable for our children. Um, excuse me? Since when is rape considered pornographic? Pornography is the use of sexual images or descriptions to elicit sexual excitement. If Mr. Scroggins was aroused reading the rape scenes in Speak, then he's well... mentally disturbed. Mr. Scroggins also talks about other things in the book in a way that is so mistaken I almost started laughing. Almost, because unfortunately Mr. Scroggins was serious about everything he says. Now, Mr. Scroggins is certainly entitled to have his own opinions about the book, laughable though they are. The problem comes when well-meaning parents read an article like this, take it to the school board and then the book gets pulled from the library shelves or curriculum. Book banning is an unnecessary evil. It's egotistical for people to think they should have any say in what another person should be reading. It's a violation of our First Amendment rights. And frankly, it ticks me off, especially when books as astounding as Speak become victims. I hope that as writers and readers, it ticks you off too.

Which brings me to the more exciting part of this post. Next week is national Banned Books Week, and to promote this worthy cause, I've decided to have a little contest. Yeah, I know I just had a contest, but I couldn't help myself. There are three ways you can earn entries for the contest and you can decide to do one, two or all three! Five points each.

1. Read a book from the banned book list below or on the flyer here. In the comments section, tell me about the book you read.

2. Write a blog post about book banning or the Speak article. You can read the original article here. And Laurie Halse Anderson's response here. She has some great ideas about what you can do to help her nip this thing in the bud before it has a chance to become an actual book banning.

3. Write a review about a banned book. It can either be the one you read for #1 or one you've read in the past, just be sure to mention the controversy surrounding the book.

If you decide to do #2 or #3, leave a link in the comments section so that your entry(ies) will count.
The prize is your choice from a book on the list below or on the flyer. Banned Book Week runs from Sept 25th until October 2nd, but I'll extend the contest until October 4th to give an extra weekend to read your books. And I will leave open the option of ordering the book from The Book Depository, so international readers may apply!!

Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009. Out of 460 challenges as reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom

1. “TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs

2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality

3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide

4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence

8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

There are more banned books listed in this flyer for you to choose from, including The Absolutely True Story of a Part-time Indian (which I adored), Twisted (another one from LHA) and lots more that you will be familiar with (even Twilight if you can believe it!).


E.J. Wesley said...

Banning Twilight is sort of like kicking a kitten, I think. It's kind of cute and defenseless, you know?

Joann Swanson said...

Fabulous post, Angie!! I've read so much support for Speak already this week and it absolutely warms my heart. I'll be adding my own soon as I can get over the ragey bile sitting in my throat. :)

Nomes said...

great idea for a contest and i love your post.

i'm sometimes surprised at what books people try to get banned. and i thinknwhen a book gets on the banned list it only brings much more attention to it - especially this time, with ppl on twitter and blogs, etc, who create a tidal wave chain reaction of support. love it (not that banning, the support).

arceli said...

I read Unwind. I don't remember seeing the alleged sexual content in there...


Angie said...

EJ - yeah it is!!
Joann - can't wait to read your post
Nomes - you're right about it bringing more attention to the book. someone on another blog mentioned this wondering why people bother to bring the book to anyone's attention when it does so. I think the thing to remember is that these are little waves of attention compared to the long-standing impact that banning a book can have. Sure a few people might read it now because its "banned", but the attention won't last that long. In a few months it's likely to be forgotten. In the end, if they succeed in the banning in the banning the book will be off the shelves or out of the curriculum for years. I guess that makes it worth the attention it gets in the short term.

Marieke said...

I've reviewed Annie on my mind, here: It's one of my all-time favorite books and it always amazes me when I read about it being banned/burned. Disallowing a book because of a gay MC is not just wrong, it gives such a destructive message to teens struggling with their own sexuality :(

Wehaf said...

I read To Kill A Mockingbird. Well, I reread it. It was even better this time around.

urchiken at gmail dot com



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