Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bloggers Speak Out

Bloggers Speak Out is a movement sparked by the recent article, "Filthy Books Demeaning to Republic Education" by Dr. Wesley Scroggins that was published in the Springfield, MO News-Leader on September 18th. In this article, Scroggins vehemently advocates the censorship of books in schools, and specifically requests that the following books be removed from the Republic school system: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. To show our support of these authors and to fight against book banning and censorship, we have decided to take action and speak out.

As book bloggers I feel we have a responsibility to talk about book related news. Something I was not aware about before my blog is that books get banned. In high school I was more of a party girl than a bookworm so reading was the last thing on my mind. A few years later I started to read but it wasn’t until the Twilight Series (banned books) that I became passionate for books. In the last few months we have heard that Ellen Hopkins was uninvited from an event because her books were called "inappropriate". I would think that schools would encourage reading instead of saying we want you read but only what we choose. Banning books has showed its ugly head again so I reached out to people I admire and here are some of their responses.

Full disclosure: I have not read SPEAK yet, and therefore I don't feel that I really OUGHT to be commenting about banning a book I haven't read. That, after all, is the knee-jerk reaction of those who ban ... they object to the very idea of a book, as well as its actual content.

So what I am commenting about is not specifically about SPEAK, but about censorship itself.
I truly believe that books provide a way for us all (including and perhaps especially young people) to encounter ideas and situations without personal risk. There is a reason that we use books as teaching tools in school ... because through books, we communicate information. How else do we acquire information? Through experience.

Nobody wants the experience of being raped, or abused, or molested. Yet it's important for teens to understand first, that these things happen, and second, that they happen OFTEN. That they or their friends or family will experience some aspect of these problems during their lifetime. And that it's all right to talk about it, and to seek help.

The nightmare of this subject being censored is that someone thinks, in his twisted way, that NOT knowing these things (and not speaking of them) makes them go away. Instead, not talking about them frees the offenders to do what they will, and silences the victims to create an artificial sense of "decency" - one that disappears when no one is looking. It is an awful, stupid thing to believe that not talking about rape makes it not happen.

And imagining that girls need to be "protected" from this kind of knowledge is absurd, because encountering it in a book is far, far better than encountering it in a deserted room at school with a boy you thought you knew, or on a date with someone you were supposed to trust, or in a deserted stretch of road with a menacing stranger. Because like it or not, girls have these experiences -- sadly, much more often than not. And they come out of such an experience feeling isolated, damaged, less, and ashamed ... and by censorship of works that deal with these issues, we as a society reinforce that these terrible feelings are right and proper. The message of this censorship is, you ARE isolated. You SHOULD shut up. You SHOULD be ashamed. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

And it's a lie.

It is the responsibility of those who DON'T believe the lie to stop its spread. I want girls, those brave and scared and damaged girls, to know that they are not the problem, and that they can, and should, SPEAK.

As should we all.

Rachel Caine (New York Best Selling Author of The Morganville Series)

As a mother, it is my responsibility to oversee what my children are exposing their minds to, whether it be movies, televison, music, social networking sites or books. I should be able to pick and choose what my kids can and can't read. As a teacher, well, I am always all for kids reading, but aside from that point, again, what a great way to get kids to open up about controversial topics in a safe and controlled manner. All in all, banning books is about eliminating choices. By removing choice, you are taking away potential consequences-- and potential life lessons.

"Parents should be involved in their children's education and know the content of what they are reading. I wouldn't mind a rating system--like the ones we have for TV, movies, games, and music--in which publishers of Young Adult books put a small box on the back cover that rates the book for language, sex, and violent content. That being said, I am 100% AGAINST banning books from schools and libraries. Books like Speak deal with the ugly, gritty side of reality--but that IS reality for many teens in this country, and books that discuss these topics can help adolescents come to terms with their own experiences."

– Kate Kaynak, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist, mother of three, and author of the Ganzfield books, which deal with issues such as sexual assault through the mind of a telepathic teenager. Poorly spelled hate-mail can be directed to her through the contact form at www.Ganzfield.com

The first time I read Speak, or even heard of it, was in my 10th grade English class. I was never victim to sexual assault to the same degree as Melinda, however at my middle school I was subject to sexual harassment on a near-daily basis and even when I tried to get help from teachers, no one could/would do anything about it other than tell them "Don't do that" or "That's not nice" so I pretty much figured I was going to be cornered in a stairwell and defiled at any given moment of any day. When reading Speak, I could clearly recall that "scared bunny" feeling Melinda got when she saw her attacker in the hallways. Banning or censoring books is stupid. Words are the most powerful thing in the world. Books have the ability to help people that have experienced horrible things see inside themselves and find the inner strength and courage to get help. Novels have the ability to reach wide audiences and educate them on the cause-and-effect that different actions have on people surrounding them. They help readers learn from the mistakes of characters without having to make those same mistakes themselves, or teach them how to forgive themselves for making the same mistake. Censoring books is like trying to censor someone's life; and in the United States of America, it's something a little redundant.

– Natalie (fan of Speak and Laurie Halse Anderson)

-Readers and bloggers that who wish to join contact (http://themindfulmusingsbookblog.blogspot.com) We will be running events from Tuesday, September 21st through Sunday, October 3rd (the end of Banned Books Week).

In honor of my readers I have made a donation to The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

One of my favorite things about having a book blog is giving away books so simply fill out the google form for a chance to win a copy of Speak. I also invite you to share your view in the comments on Speak, Banned Books, and Censorship.


  1. [this COMMENT has been REDACTED by the thought police]

  2. Awesome post!! I am against book banning too, I don't think it should be up to one person to have a say and be able to remove books and take that opportunity to read them away from the rest of the people/kids/students, some of these books can really help someone that has gone through the same experiences in their life and can even help them Speak Out! It's insane that they still keep trying to do this and it angers me!!

  3. This is such an excellent post, and I'm very glad to see someone put so much time, thought, and energy into making such a poignant post :)

  4. Great post and great contest! I'm a new follower and a new book blogger. I have also blogged about this issue on my blog. Check it out at www.just-read-books.blogspot.com

  5. Thanks Melissa!

    Miranda: Welcome and I hope you visit often. I am now following your blog as well :)

    Cynthia: You are awesome for always reading books of the Banned list! I really enjoy your reviews!

    Thanks Disgruntled Bear!

  6. As a psychotherapist, I listen to the “walking wounded” of all ages.

      Many teens and adults share what they couldn’t share when their victimization occurred.

       I help them learn and practice new coping skills.

      Parents, don’t be afraid to discuss the topic of sexual abuse with your teens – it is an opportunity to teach your child about resilience when bad things happen.

     Everyone can talk to their teen about being happy.

      Not all parents are willing or know how to teach them how to deal with the “hurts” that happen in life.

     According to the National Institute of Justice, Youth Victimization 2003:

     8% of adolescents have been victims of sexual assault, 86% of adolescent sexual assaults went unreported, three in four adolescents who were sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well.


    Books like “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson help facilitate important discussions between teens and their parents.

      It is much easier to have a discussion which revolves a story or a movie rather than a parent’s lecture.

     Truly listen when you ask your teen “what do you think about what happened?” “What do you think Melinda could have done differently?” “What could the teachers and parents have done differently?”

      “What would you do if this happened to a friend?“

      “Who could you trust to tell if something bad happened to you?”

      “How hard would it be for you to tell me?”

      “Is there a chance you would keep it a secret from me?”

      Don’t interject your viewpoint.

      Just listen.

      Your child will learn that you can listen without judging.

      Teach resilience once there is an open dialogue.


    What teens don’t learn from parents, they learn from their peers.

      Shield them from uncomfortable topics and they will ask their friends.  A Chinese proverb quotes ““Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”


    Mercedes Villarreal, LPC

  7. I have not read Speak yet either, yet I keep thinking how I would feel if someone told me, "You haven't read it, and now you're not allowed to." Grr.

    Since this issue came about, I have been asking every teenager I come in contact with if they have read it. I wanted to spread the word and get even MORE people to read it...because they can.

    While overjoyed at how many HAVE read it, I'm also saddened by how many found a deep connection to it. Speak is not just some book...it's important, and I'm really looking forward to reading it.