Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Want to get involved?

I know tons of you have read Ellen Hopkins books. I know a bunch of you are eager for her other books to arrive. And I know those of you who found what happened to her in Oklahoma to be upsetting might still be seething, like I am.

Since it's Banned Book Week, it only makes sense that we don't ban books during it and that we don't let people get away with trying to...right? One would hope that we wouldn't take this kind of thing all year round! So if you're tired of sitting there, reading, there's another way to celebrate Banned Book Week!

Here's what you can do.

Go here, and read what Ellen has to say today.

Are you mad yet?

If so, do what Ellen wants us to do... [My commentary is in brackets]

"So now I’m asking for your help. Over the years, thousands of you have messaged me, telling me why my books have been important for you. That is why they belong on bookshelves. What I’m asking is for you to send the same messages to some people. Please be respectful. If you use bad language, your opinion will be dismissed by the very people we’re trying to make understand [No swearing! None!]. You don’t have to sign your name, but if my books have touched you, please send the reasons why to:

[List of Meanies]
kelly.ogle@news9.net [News Reporter Guy]
jsiano@norman.k12.ok.us [School Corporation Guy]

[List of Nice People We Love]
karinlibrarian@gmail.com [Friendly Librarian Who Could Use Some Support!]
sunihali@comcast.net [Friendly of Some Other Sort]"

Okay guys? Does that sound doable? If you want to, you can just write something and drop it off here (Downstairs Circulation Desk!), I will make sure it gets to the people in question.

Here's a decent example, written by me in five minutes or less and intended for the school board/superintendent (the e-mail for this would be jsiano@norman.k12.ok.us)...

To Whom it May Concern,

It has come to my attention that you recently prevented Ellen Hopkins, bestselling author of Glass, Crank, Identical, Burned, and the newly published Tricks, from speaking at your school. In addition to this, you have removed Glass and Crank from your library and are considering making this a permanent decision.

As you may know, Banned Book Week began on September 26. It is important for all of us to consider how our actions now might contribute to future censorship issues in our country. Hopkins has shared many examples of how her writing has positively impacted young people experimenting with dangerous behavior on her blog, http://ellenhopkins.livejournal.com/. Our responsibility, as adults and as educators, is to make sure that teens are aware of the dangers they face when they experiment with these behaviors. Hopkins' novels provide teens with a stark view of the consequences of their actions. She would know, as her daughter has struggled with methamphetamine addiction, facing some of the struggles Hopkins describes in Crank and Glass.

Please give proper attention to the review of her books rather than succumbing to the media blitz. Read them, and discuss the impact they have had on students in your school, not simply overzealous parents. If we begin with one book, we will soon descend to policing all our literature, and a generation without To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bluest Eye, Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, and many others, would be a terrible generation to grow up in. As a school, you need to be aware that your library is possibly the only library your students have access to on a regular basis.

It is up to you and your fellow educators to teach your students to respect other ideas, strive to understand the unknown, and think critically in their daily lives. Do not reinforce the bias we live with in our society by reacting blindly to a single objection. Do not model behaviors you do not wish to see in other adults.

Stand up for freedom of speech and expression and you will teach others to do the same.

Thank you for your time and your attention,

[This is where you put your name.]

And hey, if you don't feel like writing one of these on your own, just take this one, copy and paste it into an e-mail, and send it off. Usually it's a no-no to do that sort of thing, but I hereby give you permission. So it's okay.

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