A TEACHER is challenging books. A TEACHER. A TEACHER! Instead of calmly approaching the librarian and asking about the books he questions, this teacher instead decided to try to have them removed. Anyone who has worked with tweens and teens has more than likely come across A CHILD CALLED IT by Dave Pelzer. It was one of my own middle school students who handed the book to me with an order to read it because (her words), "it was the best book ever! It made me cry. I didn't know books could do that." And so I read it, and I added copies to my classroom shelves. One by one they disappeared and had to be replaced. Any book stolen or "lost" often is a book kids love. (WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS was at one time the most frequently lost/stolen book from school libraries. I would love to see the data for titles today). It remained a book that kids loved for the years I spent in the middle school classroom. And it endures.
Part of the reason for the "appeal" of A CHILD CALLED IT is because it allows kids to test themselves safely within the confines of a book. They can witness the horrific abuse and violence visited upon children (whether fiction or nonfiction) and ask themselves how they would survive, what they would do if confronted with the same situation. Then, most of them can close the book knowing they will never face this abuse and neglect. These are not easy books for adults and, in part, that is because we want to DO something to save the children. We understand more of the terror and suffering. This book was available (I hope it is still available through this challenge as it should be) for middle school kids. It is NOT part of required reading. It is a word of mouth book, one passed along from one reader to the next. Does this teacher think that by removing this book he is somehow sheltering kids from the reality of violence and profanity?
Now, as for the other title being challenged, THE POPULARITY PAPERS: this was a book I read some time ago. I loved the take on being popular and how some folks are popular and some are not and what kids would do to become popular. For tween girls, it seems to me, the voice and the humorous approach was spot on. Here is what the teacher objects to:
"Portions of it describe a character being teased for having two fathers, which Korb’s flier calls a 'promotion of the homosexual agenda.'"
Oh for heaven's sake (avoiding the profane here with great restraint). So Barry Lyga is promoting the serial killer lifestyle by having a character whose father is a serial killer in I HUNT KILLERS (and read this one, BTW, if you love books that can scare the spit out of you)? And I guess Suzanne Collins thinks planning the murder of teens is OK because she "promotes" it in THE HUNGER GAMES? And let's not forget the promotion of vampires, ghosts, mermaids, aliens, etc. in the world of books. This is akin to some versions of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD being challenged and banned because LRRH takes some wine to her grandmother and it is not good to mention stuff like that in a book for kids because then they will all want to go out and drink wine. *stamps feet in irritation*
Remember, SPEAKLOUDLY, folks. When you see this kind of crime against books and readers, make sure to share it with kids. Get them riled up. You get riled up, too. And now to read about about a young witch. This one is sure to make the censors' alarm go off, right?