Speak Up!

Laurie Halse Anderson wrote an incredible book, Speak, about a girl so traumatized about something that happened at a high school party, she no longer speaks. The book is amazingly well-crafted. All the people, parents, teachers, and friends, are completely oblivious to what she’s going through. The book is absolutely powerful.

Recently, this book was ludicrously condemned as “soft pornography.”

School Library Journal posted an interview with Laurie Halse Anderson.

Liz Burns at A Chair, a Fire, and a Tea Cozy, has recently posted some thoughtful and excellent posts in reaction. First, about the issue of condemning books in reviews. Second, about what we are saying about other books when we call certain books “clean.”

As a librarian, I am strongly against censorship. As a conservative Christian, I understand where some parents are coming from, but I strongly believe that if a child isn’t ready for it, he or she won’t be interested. And there are difficult issues out there in the world. Isn’t reading a book a better way for your child to deal with them before they actually have to face them? I also strongly believe that there’s no better way to build empathy into a person than to get them to read — They can learn to see the perspective of both the villain and the victim. But if you stick to material that offends no one (Does such material exist?), it won’t have much impact.

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2 Responses to “Speak Up!”

  1. Liz B says:

    Needless, to say, I agree with most everything! I’ll add a bit about teens. If a parent says “don’t read this” to teens while they are in their house, what will happen? It’ll be read when they are out of the house — college, working, etc. And read without the parent for discussion & talk if the teen (or parent) wants / needs that. Why not read the books when the parent is still around as influence?

    (Sometimes, I think, the conversations get a bit fuzzy as “child” and “children” are thrown around — do we mean a 4 year old? 14? 18? I’m in my 40s and still my mother’s child, so there’s that, also!)

  2. Administrator says:

    Great point, Liz.

    Another aspect is that if they see something that disturbs them, they may set their own standards. When I was in college, I decided for myself that I would not watch R-rated movies.

    Years later, trying to impose that standard on my kids seemed ludicrous when my oldest son decided to become a filmmaker. How could he make good films if he didn’t watch the best out there? And many of the hardest-hitting are R-rated.

    When my son was home from college for a week a few years ago, we went as a family with my then 13-year-old son to three R-rated movies that the older son chose. They were all incredibly excellent movies. I was so glad I hadn’t stuck to the standard I’d set for myself in college. And we could discuss the movies together.

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