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15 January 2016 @ 03:27 pm
Speakoudly, especially YOU  
As I was scanning my Facebook feed this morning, I came across a posting from a librarian, a school librarian. She had been collecting some of the books from state lists nominees. She planned to read some for booktalks. Generally, she booktalks books based on reviews and not actually reading the books. At that point, I just should have stopped reading. But the post was longer, and I wanted to see what else might cause me to shake my head in dismay.

The post went on to question the profanity of the books she had read (I assumed she had read at least part of the book or books) and why authors felt it was necessary to use profanity. In her opinion, profanity is never appropriate (though she will concede to some mild profanity if absolutely needed). She basically indicated she would not want books with profanity as books she would offer her students.

Now, I have no idea if she works in an elementary or middle or high school. I have no idea which words might be acceptable and under what conditions. What I wonder if what books she read during her MLS coursework. And which books she might have read in the past years (decades?)? I suspect I know the answer to these questions. I have a feeling she is not well read at all. And this makes me deeply sad, sad for her and especially sad for her students. She is a gatekeeper and a censor. And she is a librarian.

I did not leave a comment. I had the distinct feeling it would fall on deaf ears. But now I know I have to go back and find that post and leave a comment of some kind. That post flies in the face of what educators need to do. We need to read, read widely and read deeply. And we need to share those books with kids without the judgmental remarks about profanity or any other "issue" we might have with the book. It also flies in the face of what I teach in literature classes about censorship and selection and gatekeeping.

We have to SpeakLoudly against censorship and gatekeeping. We have to point to those who would challenge books, ban books, fail to purchase books because they are offended by profanity or other content they deem inappropriate. It is our duty to raise the alarm. SpeakLoudly.
Current Location: home
Current Mood: angryangry
Maria Losee on January 15th, 2016 10:41 pm (UTC)
At What Cost Are We The Judge?
I solidly agree. Who are we to say what book will speak to any particular reader? A book we choose to censor or speak negatively about based on our moral high ground, may have been just the book to let a struggling student know that he or she is not alone in the world, that there's hope after all. It may have been just the book that turns a reluctant or resistant reader into a reader. It may have been the book that that particular reader remembers for years to come as being their "favorite book ever." Or maybe all these things didn't happen, because we decided we were the judge, and we stole that book from a reader who needed just that book.