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speak loudly. September 21, 2010

Posted by Katie in community.
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These days, I’m a quiet presence in the book blogging community. I still interact with y’all on Twitter. I still read all of your entries, but I’ve taken a step back from updating here as often as I used to.

When news surfaced late last week that Laurie Halse Anderson’s book “Speak” was under fire again in a town in Missouri (along with Sarah Ockler’s “Twenty Boy Summer” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”), I struggled to give words to my reaction. After days of reflection, I am sad and I am angry still.

“Speak” had a profound meaning in my life. It was published when I was in ninth grade and was one of the first books that I recall ever really being written for contemporary teens. It was a book that, I believe, led me to becoming a librarian by showing me that teen literature existed.

“Speak” has also had a profound meaning in the lives of the teens that I work with. We have three copies (a lot for my small-medium sized public library — we only have three copies of “Twilight” too), and they are constantly being checked out. And of course, many teens have shared with me their personal “Speak” stories. Stories that are always about finding strength through this work of literature.

It’s hard for me to sit here and know that this book banning is going on around me, and for me to have nothing to do, for lack of a better term. I struggle with not being able to squelch this challenge, with not being able to stamp out the fire that it is causing. I struggle to know how to help a community that I am not a part of.

Instead, I focus on the little bits that I can control. Tonight was Teen Book Club and I set aside five minutes to remind my teens how lucky they are that they have the freedom to read. I told them about this challenge, and reminded them that no one [other than their parents/guardians, of course] had any business telling them what was appropriate for them to read. And I emphasized that I will always be here to help them if a challenge happens to them.

Twenty teens are now reminded that I am their ally. And maybe I will be able to sleep just a little bit better tonight.

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1. Lauren - October 2, 2010

I was saddened and angered by this too. I think it’s great that the teens in your book club know that you’re an ally. I can’t imagine how to help those who have books removed from circulation in their libraries either, and that’s the worst part.


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