Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK is challenged - and #speakloudly shows how book banning is changing

So on Sept 18, 2010, Wesley Scroggins wrote in the Springfield, Missouri News-Leader about his outrage that in the Republic school district,
"In high school English classes, children are required to read and view material that should be classified as soft pornography. One such book is called "Speak.""

He goes on to say that the reason it was so objectionable was its inclusion of two rape scenes.

Here's Laurie Halse Anderson - the author of "Speak" - responding to this on her blog.

And watch this really powerful video of her reading a poem she wrote inspired by all the reader responses to the book she's received over the years:

In the past, it's possible this guy would have his say, the book would be pulled from the schools and libraries, and the book banners would win that round.

Now here's the game changer. Laurie has a blog - and people started to hear about this attempt to silence her book. To silence her. As she writes on her blog:

It started when Paul Hankins, an English teacher in Indiana, started a dedicated Twitter feed, #speakloudly, to spread the word about the banning. The word spread quickly and it became one of the most Tweeted topics of the weekend.

EVERYONE spoke loudly. Thousands of people linked to my post and recommended it on Facebook and on their own blogs. One social media expert said that based on the Facebook recommendations alone, he estimated that 350,000 heard about the banning.

Among the things that happened in the weeks following this attempt to silence "Speak,"

the same newspaper published Laurie's response to Scroggin's piece. It's brilliant. Read it!

In addition to speaking so eloquently about what her book actually says, and its power to address sexual assault and the readers who have said that it saved their lives, she ends her response with this amazing line:

Since Missouri is the "Show Me" state, I am donating 20 copies of each one to your area libraries. Read and decide for yourself.
I love seeing how the landscape of banning books is changing. That authors are not so isolated. And not so voiceless.

And get to SPEAK out about their work.

I'm so proud of Laurie for speaking up to this.I'm proud of the community of people touched by her work and writing for speaking up. And I'm proud of the greater world of people who haven't yet read her books but know that listening to only one side of a story isn't enough. That they need to pick up the book and read it themselves.

I'm so glad Laurie feels the power of Speaking Loudly.

And now even the New York Times is talking about Twitter being "Banned Books' New Best Friend"

And I'm so glad I'm now reading "Speak." It went to the top of my pile this week, because of the controversy. And I'd already read Laurie's "Wintergirls" and "Chains" and thought they were both powerful and so well written. I'm about a quarter of the way through "Speak." And it's amazing.

It's a book to read. And then, talk about.

Join me and read "Speak." And speak up for the freedom to read!



Brent Taylor said...

I love Laurie, and I can't believe someone would be ignorant enough to challenge her books.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Yeah, Brent. I hear you - and it's situations like this where I'm like - did you READ this book that you're so upset about? Or did you just skim the first chapter and then jump to the part someone else told you about? Because, as Laurie said in her response to him in the paper, a lot of the things he objected to were Melinda's internal snarky comments - like the cheerleaders' group rate abortions before Prom - he made it sound like that was an actual scene in the book, rather than a quick thought that was actually really revealing about Melinda's character. I'm glad to help get the word out so we can all #speakloudly!

Jan Kozlowski said...

I am a survivor of childhood abuse and I only wish that books like SPEAK and Crutcher's CHINESE HANDCUFFS had been around when I was growing up.

I tried to tell but was told I was a liar, I was crazy or that I deserved what I got, so I shut up. I was silenced and that is exactly what Scroggins is trying to through censorship. Silence is the enemy. Silence enables the abusers and their activities to flourish. Silence kills...if not the body, then most certainly the heart and mind and soul.

It has taken me DECADES to Speak Loudly and it's because of books and people like Laurie Halse Anderson, Chris Crutcher, Judy Blume and a host of others that I have gathered the courage to stand up for myself and others. And I refuse to let anyone take away my voice EVER AGAIN. Hear that, Dr. Scroggins.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Jan, thank you so much for sharing.

You're right - Speaking is POWER. Thank you for continuing to Speak Loudly about the power of books to help readers find their own voices - to help people stand up for themselves and SPEAK!

Chris said...

This is one of the best posts that I've read on the topic, Lee. Thanks for writing it. This book meant a lot to me when I read it and I was just so angry when I first heard about this moron wanting it banned. Still am really. Not to mention what he had to say about the "dangers" of children learning about homosexuality in schools as well. Ignorance like that is a scary thing.