professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Time passes lately between these SpeakLoudly posts. I do know that Cynthia Lord is waiting the outcome of a parent challenging RULES. The parent wants the title removed from a Battle of the Books contest because her son is autistic. That is all I know of the incident and wish there were more information. You see, it comes down to that selection versus censorship difference. If the parent would prefer her or his child not read the book, if the book is indeed required, then I am OK with that. Not the book for your own child: selection, parenting, you can call it what you want. Book not right for ANY kid, then it's censorship rearing its ugly head. Hard to tell what is going on here as there has been little out there written about the incident.

And that is what is most frightening about censorship (well, one of the things). So much goes unreported. I see statistics that proclaim that 2010 was better than previous years as the number of reported challenges is smaller. However, you and I both know that there has been a chilling effect of censorship that has caused some (I think many) incidents to go unreported, a sort of passive censorship. The book goes missing or is pulled (sometimes "temporarily"") and that is the end of it. Someone here in my good old home state conducted a survey a few years ago to see which most commonly challenged books were available in libraries (and I do not recall if it was limited to public or school or both) and discovered that there were many titles that were simply never a part of the collection.

How about a New Year's resolution: visit your public library and see how many of the top challenged books are missing from the collection. Do they have SPEAK? What about THE CHOCOLATE WAR? IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL (I think I hold a record for most donations of this title to my own public library branch as I replace it when it goes "missing")? AND TANGO MAKES THREE? If you find something missing, why not donate a copy? You are now serving two important purposes: making sure the book is available and boosting sales. YAY for you.

For those of you working in schools, check our your own collection. Are there titles that are developmentally appropriate (more on this in a minute) for your population that are missing? Donate a copy to the cause.

Now about the remark about being developmentally appropriate. A colleague on Twitter remarked about finding a book in her elementary collection that was truly for older YA readers. She asked if it was OK to send a note to the librarian asking that the book be sent to the junior high or high school? My response (and I had read the book in question, THE MOCKINGBIRDS) was that she should do so. I did it many years ago when the resident of the back bedroom (who, as she is constantly reminding me, turns 18 in 9 days) was in elementary school and forced to do AR (despite my attempts to exempt her) and brought home TANGERINE when she was in 2nd grade. Her sisters told her in tandem that they did not think she would enjoy the book, thus sparing me. She read about 3 pages and concurred (see, they do reject books not right for them if you just trust the process). I sent the book back to the school with a note suggesting it be sent to the junior high and spelling out why (simple plot summary did the trick). Never did hear from the librarian, but I do know the book left the elementary school collection.

I cannot imagine the selection process that indicated TANGERINE would make a good addition to an elementary school collection (the campus was PK-4 at the time). Well, yes, I do know the "selection." AR selected the book for the collection because of its points and its reading level. And that is where computer programs like these go horribly, terribly awry. Lexiles and levels are not good ways to select books. However, since it is Christmas Eve, I will spare you the rant on this for now. A recent report from the Texas ACLU speculated, though, that a great many of the book challenges from 2009 originated because books were made available to the wrong audience because of these canned programs.

Back to SpeakLouldy. I still wear my button daily. I love it when folks ask me about it, too. Hope you are wearing your badge of honor, too. I still have about 20 left (from about 700). I think I will take them to ALA with me. SpeakLoudly, folks.

Tags: censorship, speakloudly
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