And while speaking loudly, I was monitoring a practice test yesterday for some folks seeking library certification and I had one of the near grads tell me she had over 100 kids sign up for her book club this semester. She offered them Sherman Alexie's ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART TIMNE INDIAN and cautioned them that if they were easily offended, they should not join up for the reading (love sneak tactics). The kids LOVED the book (of course) and since there are so many of them, it has been tough to have enough meetings to let everyone have a say. So, during her own lunch time (yes, she has them brown bag it and join her in the library), they are doing "chalk talk". They write their comments on the boards. I know she will have follow up conversations as well, but for now that does give everyone a chance who wants to "say" something to do so.
Here is a book being "investigated" right now for its appropriateness. And here is the same book taking hold of more than 100 kids (and mostly teen guys) and holding them so captive. Irony, much?
Truth is, we do not know which book might be the spark. I write about books I love all the time. Others do not always agree (even my own resident of the back bedroom to my chagrin). Years ago, I sued to think that I was just not getting across why everyone should like MY selection of books. Thankfully, I began to get it: not one book fits all kids anyt more than one size clothing fits me. So, I read as widely as I can hoping that ONE book might be the touchstone for ONE kid at SOME moment.
And I defend the books because if we lose Alexie or Speak or Twenty Boy Summer or books by Levithan and Hopkins and Cormier, think of the possibility that we also lose a reader.