Got home last night to discover the actual buttons had arrived. Who knew 500 buttons could weigh so much? I have now divvied them up into smaller bags. I will distribute some when Laurie Halse Anderson speaks at our book conference in November. Some will go along with me to Colorado and New Mexico for conferences there over the next few weeks. Most of them will come with me to Orlando for NCTE. The trick will be to find me there at the conference (hint, take a look at the program to find my first presentation, the only time I am certain to have buttons).
Now, on to the real business of SpeakLoudly. I hope by now you have gone to the site, www.speakloudly.org, and joined up. I hope as you tweet and post you are using our hashtag (#SpeakLoudly) so that the feed can be captured on the page. I also hope you are following the latest news about bannings and challenges. As you see these, be sure to SpeakLoudly.
SpeakLoudly also means speak civilly. Let us not descend to the level of rhetoric of those we would call censors. Let us not be mean-spirited. Let us speak honestly and forthrightly and passionately.
The other day I posted about a challenge to the Hunger Games books. Hunger Games was apparently being used as a fifth grade text that was being used with an entire class. Someone asked me then about the use of novels for whole class reading. I will admit that I was a fan of this when I was teaching middle school. Now, not so much of a fan. Using only ONE book with an entire class (and worse doing this all year long) means kids never get choices in reading. Literature Circles help alleviate some of that all-read-the-same-book limitation. I used DIR back then and still would today. Terry Ley's DIRECTED INDIVIDUALIZED READING meant that each student had the freedom to select her or his own book. I read what the students brought to me (of course, a wise teacher will booktalk books she or he knows to help kids make selections). Students then signed up for individual conferences with me over the period of several weeks. In these conferences, they were in charge of the conversation. I was able to participate because I had also read their books. Did I have to read book snot in my comfort zone? Yep. I still recall my colleague Bob complaining about all of the Sweet Valley High books he had to read. I was reading Piers Anthony books, not exactly my cup of tea. But our kids were reading and reading more and reading more widely because they had teachers like Bob and Lois who would read ANYthing they recommended.
How does this relate to censorship? It's a little tenuous and tangential. However, I gave my students the freedom to read ANYthing (well, we did have a discussion about the fact that any book they brought to school could conceivably be seen by the principal, so keep it "developmentally appropriate.") and I supported them in their tastes and interests. I hope that might go a long way to make them more accepting of the interests and tastes of others. One way to grow more open-minded readers is to be open-minded yourself, right? I would like to think that my students (and I am in touch with a couple of them from middle school) would challenge censors and would do so by encouraging kids to read freely.
As an aside, someone followed me on Twitter as a result of my #BBW hashtag. I had to block and report them as spam. Turns out BBW means something else to some folks. And, if you accidentally went to SpeakLoudly.com you saw that that is something a bit different as well. Gotta love the social networks!