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23 January 2015 @ 10:08 am
Edgy, Edgier, Too Edgy  
So, Wednesday evening, I joined a Twitter chat (#ptchat). The participants spent a good bit of time talking about PD books and making recommendations. Then, as usually happens when folks gather who love reading and books, we began to talk book recommendations. Someone asked for a "read alike" for Grasshopper Jungle. I suggested maybe reading some of A S King's books. What happened was that the next morning, I posted a comment to Twitter that pulled in Amy King and Pete Hautman and Angie Manfredi and Mindi Rench and a few others. Here is the Storify link so you can see the "conversation" that took place.


This does not include the DMs between Mindi and me. I wanted to make sure Mindi know that my tweet had to do with a larger issue. She was talking about a K-8 school, and so her comment about something being too edgy had more to do with developmental appropriateness than anything else. But it was the impetus for my original comment. My comment was about gatekeeping, the act of NOT selecting a book that might be controversial. I have heard several authors and experts in the field of censorship discuss the practice. And I know that it happens, a lot, even in Texas, especially in Texas.

I wrote about this in The ALAN Review column I edit on Censorship: http://www.alan-yabeta.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/L77-81-ALAN-Fall14.pdf. Here is the piece on gatekeeping:

"A decade ago, a survey of several Texas school libraries revealed that many collections did not in- clude titles that appear regularly on lists of challenged and censored titles. Similarly, School Library Journal surveyed hundreds of librarians and found that almost three-quarters of respondents would consider not adding a controversial book to their collections (Whelan, 2009; see http://www.slj.com/2009/02/ censorship/a-dirty-little-secret-self-censorship). This is not an isolated case, as Rickman (2010) observed in her research on self-censorship.

A survey I conducted with colleagues (Lesesne, Hynes, & Warnock, 2013) resulted in similar conclu- sions. We found that certain topics and issues may lead to gatekeeping, to self-censorship. To date, there has not been research about classroom libraries and how they might also be problematic. Are we limiting students’ access to books via gatekeeping? Are there texts we avoid adding to our classroom shelves for fear of potential challenges? This is a deadly part of that censorship iceberg that lurks beneath the surface."

Take a look at the Storify to see how this discussion ranged. Pete Hautman gave us a link to a piece he had written about "edgy" (you can see it in one of his tweets, but here it is: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4690381-edginess-in-ya-novels-by-pete-hautman) which, in turn, caused me to think about some books as "precipice" books.

I post the Storify here as I know this is a discussion better had in an auditorium at our professional conferences with a panel of educators and authors talking about censorship vs. selection, talking about library collections in schools, in classrooms, in public libraries, talking about dealing with the books that present tough topics in a realistic (or even a magicallly realistic) manner. We need more talk out in the open. We need to take this into the light.
Current Mood: motivated