Children

Lauren Myracle Reads (and Writes) Banned Books, Do You?

Lauren Myracle, author of ttyl and Luv Ya Bunches, two frequently challenged books, writes about the phenomenon of Banned Books. She says that parents anger springs from fear. Grown-ups who care about what kids read aren't the enemy.

From Shelf Awareness: As 2009's number one most frequently challenged author in the country (Mom, cover your ears), I often catch flack for writing about topics that certain parents, teachers and librarians would prefer I didn't. Like what? Like a teenager kissing her female best friend, or high school kids drinking too much and doing really stupid things, or a discussion of the pros and cons of thongs.

I've also come under fire for writing (lovingly) about a fifth-grader who has two moms, as well as a boy who won't join the Boy Scouts because of the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policies. Biology gets me in trouble, too. For example, parents get all kinds of upset about a scene in one of my novels in which a 12-year-old girl sits down with a box of tampons and attempts to make heads and tails of the dense instruction pamphlet.

In grappling with issues surrounding censorship, I've come to the conclusion that the enemy--at least in part--is the inevitable us/them dichotomy that arises in discussions of intellectual freedom.

Opinion: There is a time to ban books from school libraries

"Banned books are a sign of an oppressive regime. That said, forcing age-inappropriate reading materials on youngsters not ready to deal with the material -- and doing so just for the sake of a bigger principle -- is just as oppressive..." Read more at Yahoo News

One Man's Opinion: How to Raise Boys Who Read

WSJ.com - Opinion: How to Raise Boys Who Read. The authors hint: Not with gross-out books and video-game bribes.

Can Censoring a Children's Book Remove Its Prejudices?

Interesting analysis from Philip Nel's blog Nine Kinds of Pie:

When I posted news of my “Censoring Children’s Literature” course last month, several people (well, OK, one person …maybe two) expressed an interest in hearing more about the course. So, given that Banned Books Week is coming up next week, here’s an update. Having lately been examining two versions of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle (1920, 1988) and three versions of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964, 1973, 1998), we’ve been addressing this question: Do Bowdlerized texts alter the ideological assumptions of the original? The answer is more complicated than you might think.

Blog entry here.

How to Save School Libraries and Indie Bookstores and Prepare Our Kids for Standardized Tests

Melissa Stewart, award-winning author of over 100 non-fiction books for children writes in Celebrate Science:

Sound too good to be true? It’s not.

Let’s start with some background. About 80 percent of all children's nonfiction titles are sold to schools and libraries. This was great in the 1980s and 1990s when teachers were able to find lots of creative ways to integrate children’s literature into their lesson plans.

But then 2001 rolled around. That’s the year the No Child Left Behind Act was passed. And everything changed.

Suddenly educators had to teach to the test. They no longer had much time for creative teaching strategies, and they had to greatly reduce their use of trade books in the classroom.

The result is no surprise. Sales of nonfiction books have fallen significantly over the last decade. And in response, trade publishing houses have reduced their nonfiction lists on average 25 percent (and in some cases as much as 50 percent).

That’s a shame because trade nonfiction titles are meticulously researched and expertly crafted to delight as well as inform. They engage young readers in a way that text books and other standard teaching materials can’t.

Teachers know it.

Librarians know it.

We all know it.

Author Proclaims "I Would Be Dead Without Libraries"

From Telegraph Herald OnLine: A librarian saved Gary Paulsen's life. More than 100 people listened with amazement Sunday as the self-proclaimed street kid who became an award-winning author shared his life story at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque IA.

"I would be dead without libraries," said Paulsen, 71.

Dressed in a black turtleneck sweater and blue jeans, the author of three Newbery Honor Books -- "Hatchet," "Dogsong" and "The Winter Room" -- held nothing back.

Paulsen described how he sold newspapers as a teenager at bars. One cold night, he walked into a library to keep warm until the drunks got so sloshed that he could easily swipe extra change.

Once inside, something amazing happened. A librarian asked Paulsen if he would like a library card.

"Nobody gave me anything," Paulsen said. He was shocked when the librarian gave him his very own card with his name correctly spelled. She encouraged Paulsen to read more and more books over the next few years.

Although he failed in almost everything at school, Paulsen continued to read. "Everything that I am or ever will be in writing is because
of (that librarian)," he said.

Internet Can Be a Dangerous Place for Unsupervised Children

Internet predators are using more sophisticated means to lure children into dangerous situations says The News Chief of Winter Haven, FL.

In July, the Federal Trade Commission released a report concerning child safety on the Internet. The report stated that in 2004, 45 percent of American children had a personal cellular phone, while in 2009, the number of children with a phone grew to 75 percent.

Cellular phones have become more sophisticated, allowing the user to access the Internet, chat, text, e-mail, photograph and play games - all on one device. The report raises concerns about the amount of personal information teens and older children inadvertently may share by making online purchases and browsing the Web. In response, the FTC has concentrated its efforts in combating Internet predators by expanding its Internet lab and developing tools to assist in mobile-related investigations.

This is something Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has been focusing on for much of his career. "There is no fail-safe protection from these predators," said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Donna Wood. "This is a new frontier for crime.

The Boy Who Loved Free Books

Commentary from Jeff Klima of the Huffington Post about how he 'augmented' the number of books he read as a kid to win the free books contest in a library reading program.

Klima is the author of "The Dead Janitor's Club".

Childrens Author Joan Steiner Dies

From SLJ: Joan Steiner, illustrator and creator of the "Look-Alikes" series (Little, Brown), died September 8 of cancer at her home in Claverack, NY.

Using everything from broccoli to razors to dominoes, Steiner painstakingly assembled three-dimensional collages that recreated everyday scenes such as a train station, city street, general store, park, and zoo. When asked to name the most unusual object used in her art, Steiner replied, "There is a hand grenade in the general store in the first book." The grenade became a potbelly stove in the scene.

Time magazine named "Look-Alikes" one of the best children's books, and it was one of the New York Times Book Review's Notable Children's Books of 1998. Steiner went on to create six other titles in the series, including Look-Alikes, Look-Alikes Jr., Look-Alikes Christmas, and Look-Alikes Around the World, which have sold more than a million copies worldwide and were translated into 16 languages.

Steiner served for many years as vice-president of New York's Claverack Free Library and as co-chair of its building committee. Steiner spent more than 10 years finding an affordable way to increase the size of the library and to expand its programs to better serve the community.

Fight for Libraries As You Do for Freedom

A very powerful op-ed piece by novelist Karin Slaughter in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"My father and his eight siblings grew up in the kind of poverty that America doesn’t like to talk about unless something like Katrina happens, and then the conversation only lasts as long as the news cycle. His family squatted in shacks. The children scavenged the forest for food. They put cardboard over empty windowpanes so the cold wouldn’t kill them.

Books did not exist here. When your kids are starving, you can’t point with pride to a book you’ve just spent six hours reading. Picking cotton, sewing flour bags into clothes — those were the skills my father grew up appreciating.

And yet, when he noticed that I, his youngest daughter, showed an interest in reading, he took me to our local Jonesboro library and told me that I could read any book in the building so long as I promised to talk to him about it if I read something I didn’t understand. I think this is the greatest gift my father ever gave me. Though he was not a reader himself, he understood that reading is not just an escape. It is access to a better way of life."

Read more: AJC.

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