I live in Texas. As you may have heard, Texas is a haven for conservatives, Christians, and Republicans. I'm cool with that. I don't really take issue with other people's values unless they're trying to tell me what to do or how to think. Usually, they don't. Especially since I live in Austin, which is a blue city in this red state.
But every time I turn the corner I see something about books being challenged in high schools and middle schools, libraries, etc. And this doesn't so much bother me because I don't believe in book banning - and I don't, I think it's insane - but because I don't think the people questioning young people's literature are even reading the books.
If they were reading, they'd see that the girls in Lauren Myracle's TTYL, one of the most challenged books this year (and currently raising a hullabaloo just north of my town), might make some bad choices, but that they ultimately have a moral compass and deal with the consequences of their actions. Who cares if the author has chosen some particularly "shocking" language - this is the reality of being a teenager.
You can't take bits of books out of context and present them as problems - the book as a whole is what's important, what can create a dialogue between you and your children/students/friends. Banning books puts up a wall and creates an atmosphere of distrust.
I was at a panel tonight given by several of Austin's YA Authors, including Jennifer Ziegler, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Margo Rabb, and others. Jennifer mentioned at one point that you don't need to add drama when you write YA, because being a teenager is dramatic. I couldn't agree more - it's rough out there, it's the hardest thing to go through, and books provide a great escape, a wonderful therapy, and a valid educational endeavor. Whether its a gothic fantasy like Cynthia's, a heartbreaker like Margo's, or a dramedy like Jennifer's, YA authors have a way of getting to teens - who are we to take that away?
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