Archive for the ‘intellectual freedom’ Category
Well, this is awkward — both my long absence from posting (I got a job!) and what’s going on over in Utah.
Image is from Wikipedia.
Basically, some (heterosexual) Utah parents are grumpy about a book that features a family of two lesbian parents and their adopted children. One parent is quoted as saying it is ”not a natural process to have a complete family without a male and female.” I was raised by my single father. Was my upbringing unnatural and incomplete too? Something may not be the best option for you, but that doesn’t give you license to control the lives and dictate the values of others. Live and let live. If you don’t want a gay marriage, don’t have one! If you don’t like what is in this book and your child reads it, then have a conversation (gasp!) with your child about it. Part of parenting is answering tough questions. But don’t worry, there are books to help with that!
Ms. Tamora Pierce is the author of, well, let’s just say “oodles” of books. I’ve read all but the most recent of her Tortall novels. What I love most
Next on my to-read list: Tamora Pierce's Mastiff
about about Ms. Pierce’s novels are her heroines. Not only are they strong, quirky, and unique, but they are also allowed to be believable sexual beings. Most of her heroines who are physically and emotionally mature have had multiple sexual partners. What is great about this is that her ladies are responsible about it. Birth control is discussed. Romantic notions of “giving” your virginity to the man that you are certain you will marry are not brought in to the discussion. They don’t feel devalued in anyway for not being virginal. Not only that, but her heroines actively enjoy their sex lives. And they are not punished for it like in a stereotypical horror film when the sexually active teens are killed off. Yes, Ms. Pierce’s ladies suffer from heartache when their romantic relationships end, but these ladies recover and move on. With all these strong, relatable, and responsible women running through Ms. Pierce’s novels who could complain?
It would seem that some people disapprove of women taking charge of, and responsibility for, their sexuality. Ms. Pierce’s novels have been challenged repeatedly and at least one, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, has been banned by at least one institution. One of the reasons was “use of an amulet to prevent pregnancy.” Rather than be challenged, Ms. Pierce ought to be applauded for her portrayal of female sexuality. She offers young women good examples to follow. Her heroines are discreet, selective in choosing their partners, and responsible about preventing pregnancy. Additionally, when a relationship turns sour, the woman gets out of the relationship; she doesn’t hang on to an incompatible lover. She respects herself enough and has the good sense to extract
My Tamora Pierce collection
herself from bad relationship, mourns the romantic loss, and moves on. That is what I want my daughter to learn. I want my future daughter to know that sex is for pleasure but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Sex is serious enough to require that precautions be taken but it does not determine your worth as a person.
Ms. Pierece has a good handle on the heroines that a modern young reader needs. Kudos to her.
I learned a few weeks ago (Yes, I know I’m long overdue for a post. Don’t fine me!), that Occupy Wall Street has a library! If I were opposed to the movement, I would be scared pants-less. Libraries belong to communities, and OWS has definitely established itself as a community that does not intend to leave until it sees the country change for the better.
Unfortunately, the NYPD has repeatedly destroyed the library. That’s right; in twenty-first-century America, books are still being destroyed as a way
The People's Library of the Occupy Wall Street Movement has very flexible hours.
to control the population. The People’s Library of the Movement (also referred to as Library 3.0 because it has been destroyed and resurrected twice thus far) has been collecting poetry about the protests, legal reference works, and books about past revolutions, as well anything a kind donor brings or sends to the collection. You can check out their collection on LibraryThing.
The library is a living, breathing entity that is doing its best to serve a community with specific needs. Being a librarian is difficult enough when your work is paid and sheltered from the elements. Imagine being a volunteer librarian in a makeshift shelter in constant fear of the police. Occupy Librarians and Library Volunteers, I salute you.
Presently, the library is entirely mobile as a way to protect it from city officials looking to destroy it. Librarians are currently using carts to ferry books to and from the protest site until a better solution is found. If you would like to help, the People’s Library needs volunteers, reading and reference materials, storage containers, and shelter material.
I promised a second highlight of Banned Books Week, and, though I’m a little late, here it is!
ALA asked readers to vote for the Top Ten Most Far-fetched Reasons to Challenge a Book.
Sarah Fischer, a staff writer for the University of Illinois’ Daily Illini wrote an editorial briefly discussing censorship and her love of banned books.
Barbara Jones, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, recorded a two-part video message encouraging parents to read and discuss challenged and banned books with their children.
The Australian Broadcasting Company covered a news story about schools in Israel refusing to use censored textbooks. Not strictly BBW-related, but still an occurrence of censorship that deserves attention.
In early September, Laura Whitwell of the UK paper, Daily Mail, wrote an interesting article about books that have been challenged in Texas schools. Now, I want to find a copy of The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln to read!
Finally, you can take ALA’s Banned Book Week Quiz. Good luck!
According to the American Library Association website:
Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.
Unfortunately, I’ve haven’t been able to participate in any BBW activities this week aside from reading a book about Genghis Khan’s daughters. Written by highly respected scholar Jack Weatherford, The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire is the first book dedicated to the female descendants of the founder of the Mongolian Empire. The book itself has never been challenged, but I argue that it is appropriate for BBW because the records of the deeds of the extraordinarily powerful daughters, granddaughters, and daughters-in-law of Genghis Kahn were destroyed in an attempt to erase their memory from history. Most of the information that modern scholars have about these women comes from the records and observations of foreigners who visited the Mongol courts or were conquered by the Mongols. These women were silenced for centuries but, thanks to Dr. Weatherford’s research, their stories are surfacing again. If you enjoy Asian history, Mongolian culture, women’s history, or underdog stories, I recommend this.
How have other people and organizations been celebrating Banned Books Week? We are all busy people so I’ve limited myself to a small selection of
ALA's BBW poster
highlights from the week so far.
A friend of a colleague wrote an excellent blog entry reminding us why we need BBW.
Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association, wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post condemning censorship.
The Springfield-Greene County Library District in Missouri posted brief interviews with authors whose works have been challenged and/or banned. (The link leads to a PDF.) Authors interviewed are Jane Yolen, Beth Hammett, Leslea Newman, David Harrison, Sandy Asher, Jan Cheripko, and Patricia Hermes.
A touching comic from Sinfest.net. Of course, book burnings aren’t always exclusively attacks on occult books by the Christian right, but the sentiment is still appreciable. Click on the image to go to the site and see the image full-size.
Sherman Alexie (Photo by Chase Jarvis)
In June Sherman Alexie published an excellent editorial defending violent, sexual, or otherwise dark young adult literature.
The modern concept of childhood as a wholly innocent, breezy, and completely care-free period without struggle is very recent. Children live in the same world as adults and often understand more than adults give them credit for. Giving them nothing but bland, Utopian children’s literature does not help them to cope with the harsh realities that young adults often face.
Additionally, as Alexie points out, innocence is often lost far earlier than many adults think. I know a great many friends who have been abused in some way or another. In some cases, literature helped them to overcome their traumas. To ban a young adult book, or any book, is to do readers a disservice. After all, “Every book its reader, and every reader his/her book.”
*Photo is from Alexie’s website and was taken by Chase Jarvis.