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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: speak, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 37
1. 7 Things You Don't Know About Laurie Halse Anderson


PROM by Laurie Halse Anderson was our featured title in our June 2008 issue. What's new with Laurie? Here's what she shared with us:


7 Things You Don't Know About Me

1. I am writing this list in Muscat, Oman. I've had the chance to visit several American schools overseas in the last couple of years and am having a blast exploring new cultures.

2. I ran a marathon in 2011.

3. I finally got to hang out with Stephen Chbosky (Perks of Being a Wallflower) and am happy to report that he is a super cool guy.

4. I have become obsessed with mint lemonade.

5. I want to write a fantasy, but have not yet figured out how to do it.

6. I'm working on the text for the SPEAK graphic novel that should be published in 2016.

7. I love my life.
Want to know more secrets about your favorite authors? Keep checking this blog all month long to celebrate the seven-year anniversary of readergirlz!

BONUS: Read our roundtable discussion of PROM.

BONUS: Laurie's video celebrating the 10th anniversary of SPEAK in 2009.

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2. Best Advice for Survivors of Sexual Assault

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This is the best advice I have ever read for survivors of sexual assault. It is for everyone who has struggled to come to terms what happened and everyone who loves them. That means everyone needs to read it.

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3. Book Review: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

Title: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare
Author: Melissa Jensen
Series: None
Publisher: Speak
Released: February 16, 2012
Website: http://www.melissajensen.com/

Book Summary:

Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming romantic comedy.

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

I loved the way this book was written, it was quite witty. It starts off with Ella sharing her undying love for Edward Willing. The only problem with this is that he died...long ago, as in years before Ella was even born. Through the course of the book she has many an interesting conversations with her idol Edward. If only she could find someone alive who could live up to Edward. Of course there is always her crush Alex Bainbridge, but he's a "Philitte" who will likely never notice her.

Ella and her friends Sadie & Frankie attended Willing School where they are at the bottom of the social ladder. Sadie has money but has a less than perfect body, Frankie is gay and Ella is a scholarship student with a scarred body. This leaves the three of them nearly invisible among the many elite students (Philittes) who attend Willing. At least they have each other and their close friendship with many a game of Truth or Dare.

When Alex is assigned to be Ella's French tutor Ella finally has a chance to be noticed by Alex.

I loved the first couple chapters but then found it really slow going for a while. It picked up again by mid book and I enjoyed the story.  I ended up really liking many of the characters: Sadie, Ella & especially Alex.  I liked Frankie too but I just don't enjoy reading about same-sex relationships and was a little turned off by how often his relationships were mentioned.

Full of many great quotes and laughs I'm sure this will be a hit with those who enjoy contemporary young adult literature.



Rating: 3.5 Stars - Good Book

Content: a little language include 1 use of the f word, one of the main characters is gay so there many conversations about who he was dating/liked, one of the characters makes crude comments to and about Ella, a scene where a shirt is removed but done to show a scar, etc.

Source: ARC Tours set up by The Teen Book Scene

Also by Melissa Jensen:

4. Contest Monday and SPEAK

Feeling lucky? There's a new Lucky Agent Contest going on over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog. It's open to those who write urban fantasy or paranormal (either YA or adult). The contest is judged by Marisa Corvisiero of the L. Perkins Agency. 3 winners will get a 10-page critique! Enter by Wed. Oct. 6th. Good luck!

Tomorrow (Tues. 9/28), we're giving away a copy of SPEAK by the amazing Laurie Halse Anderson here at Sisters in Scribe. Come back tomorrow for more information and details on how to enter.

Happy Monday!

4 Comments on Contest Monday and SPEAK, last added: 9/27/2010
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5. Lightning Round

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The clock is ticking ever closer to the start of the FORGE book tour, and the available hours to get everything done by then are becoming perilously few.

So I am going to turn this blog into a lightning round.

Ready?

Last week: the Scroggins book banning kerfuffle. Lots of interviews. Said “Scroggins” a lot. This made me think of Charles Dickens. That was nice. Quick trip to Denver to talk to independent bookstore folks there.

Weekend: Hung out with Revolutionary War geeks at Ft. Ticonderoga. Drank spruce beer.

This week: waiting for Magic 8 Ball to deliver verdict on possibility of writing time. Hoping I don’t get BH’s cold. Hoping that the chickens lay eggs soon. Writer’s group tomorrow. Possibility of hibernation after that.

Ideas for you:

1. Join the Speak Loudly Community! (Many, many thanks to David Gill and Paul Hankins for setting it up!)

2. Add a SpeakLoudly Twibbon to your Twitter or Facebook profile pic.

3. Contact bookavore if you need an incredibly good copy editor for academic papers or fiction writing.

4. If you live in Republic, MO, drop me a line and let me know how the Scroggins’ banning attempt is proceeding.

Whew!

Questions?

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6. SPEAKing about Rape and SPEAK Giveaway

WARNING: This post is about rape. It's not about censorship, which I could go on for days about, because that has been comprehensively covered in other posts. It's not about religion, which I could go on for weeks about, maybe even years. It's not even about Dr. Scroggins and how amazed I am that he has a Dr. in front of his name given the magnitude of his ignorance. Or that he could find a book about rape 'pornographic' in any way. Devastating and tragic, yes. Pornographic, no. There have been many posts addressing the issue how Dr. Scroggins, a self-proclaimed Christian in Missouri, attempted to get the book SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson banned, along with several other books, for being akin to soft core pornography. His actual article can be found here. I will say one more thing about religion. Rape happens to young women (and some young men) of ALL religions, so to imply that a good Christian shouldn't let their kids read a book about this topic is absurd and irresponsible.

My YA hat is off today.  I'm writing this as a Ph.D. licensed clinical psychologist who has worked with hundreds of rape survivors. Rape is an ugly act, and we have a tendency to sweep ugly things under the carpet, where we don't have to look at them. This is an issue that is too important to hide.

I've worked with girls impregnated by their own fathers and step-fathers. I've worked with girls whose mothers kicked them out of the house for trying to "steal their boyfriend" after said boyfriend repeatedly raped them. I've worked with girls who 'accepted' rape from family members, hoping it would spare their younger siblings from the same abuse. I've worked with girls who were date raped and did SPEAK only to be blamed themselves or told it was "her word against his," and then had to see the perpetrator in school every day. My heart has broken over and over again for these girls, but one of the best parts of my job is helping give a voice to those who feel they don't have one. Helping them become stronger than they ever thought they were before. Helping them SPEAK.

RAPE STATISTICS:

  • 73% of women are raped by someone they know
  • In the United States, someone is sexually assaulted EVERY TWO MINUTES
  • Approximately 1 in 6 women (and 1 in 33 men) experience sexual assault in their lifetime. In my state of Colorado, it's almost 1 in 4 women.
  • 60% of rapes are NOT REPORTED to the police. That's a lot of women NOT speaking. 
(More statistics are available through the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

This is why books like SPEAK are incredibly important in helping young people speak up about the issue of rape. This is true for young woman AND young men. I could write an entire post on the socio-cultural aspects of rape in our society, and how we're collectively responsible for the messages we're sending to young men with our "boys will be boys" mentality. I've worked with many incarcerated boys and men (some of whom were violent sexual offenders), and that's an entire post as well. Suffice it to say that it's important that EVERYONE be educated about this issue, as education is the first step in creating change.

SPEAK is a painful, poignant, and emotional journey through the eyes of a young date rape survivor. Melinda was as real to me as many of the adolescent girls I've worked with. This is a gripping and important story that deserves to be discussed. Yes, parents should be knowledgeable about what books their children are reading. But more importantly, parents should be actively involved in ALL aspects of their child's life and foster an open line of communication with them.

Banning a book about rape doesn't make the prevalence of date rape any less

24 Comments on SPEAKing about Rape and SPEAK Giveaway, last added: 9/30/2010
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7. Except That You Really Need to Read This

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Remember Risha Mullins, the nationally board certified English teacher who was hounded from her job in Kentucky last year?

Risha has written about the entire episode. It will chill your blood.

This is why we must continue to speak loudly.

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8. The Book Review Club - Speak vs. Wintergirls

Speak
Laurie Halse Anderson
Young Adult

and

Wintergirls
Laurie Halse Anderson
Young Adult

I read both of these books back to back and did not give up on life entirely, which speaks highly to Anderson's talent as a writer. These are not easy reads. Speak, celebrating its 10th anniversary in print, is about rape. Think that's edgy? Wintergirls is about bulimia and anorexia. This is tough stuff. Anderson does a fabulous job with protraying real, troubled teens. For any girl who has been through rape or is battling an eating disorder, these pieces must feel empowering because they let the individual know, you are not alone.

The reason I review them together is because, despite Anderson's skill at real, gritty portrayal of these issues through a teen character, after finishing the books, I was left feeling much like I had after a spree of John Irving books in my early twenties, i.e. like the main characters were the same person over and over. Lia of Wintergirls, birthed ten years after Melinda of Speak, nonetheless feels like the same teen. Anderson's writing chops are much improved, although the symbolism in Speak is incredible, the writing in Wintergirls will leave you rereading again and again to pick up craft points, turns of phrase, ideas on how to take mental illness and make it real for readers. Still, Melinda and Lia are interchangeable.

Why?

Their voice feels very similar. Their reactions, similar. Lia feels like a more mature Melinda, going further in her personal psychosis, more unstable, more suicidal, more detached. Yet still, Melinda.

Which leads me to ask the following questions: What results in similar characters across novels by the same author? Can we authors only get so far from our own perception? Are we slaves to our own hermeneutics? Or do similar driving motives across different stories nevertheless lead to similar characters?

I am not sure what the answers are, but I would like to know more because I find myself falling into that pattern in a present novel. Certain secondary characters feel similar to ones in an earlier novel I wrote. How do I avoid that? Should I? Or does such similarity define an author much as a defining brushstroke can define a painter?

Food for thought.

For more great reads, hop over to our fearless leader, Barrie Summy's blog.  And for those of you in the Kansas area, if you get a chance, stop by the Kansas School Librarians Conference Thursday and Friday of this week. Barrie Summy, P.J. Hoover, Zu Vincent, Suzanne Morgan Williams, and I are the guest speakers for lunch on Thursday. It's a whole panel of characters just waiting to share!

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9. SPEAK Contest Winner

I wanted to give a great big shout out to everyone who commented on my post about SPEAK. It's such an important topic and you're all made of awesome, so thank you. The Random Number Generator has spoken--a copy of SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, as well as the cool censorship button goes to....LINDSAY (a.k.a. Isabella). Congrats Lindsay! Please email me your mailing address and Lacey and I will get your prizes out ASAP.

I'll be on vacation next week, without internet access (I know, right?), and I'll be leaving the blog in the hands of my amazing Sisters. Hope everyone has a great week of reading and writing. I'll leave you with some words of inspiration for aspiring novelists: If Snooki can do it, so can you! :)

4 Comments on SPEAK Contest Winner, last added: 10/6/2010
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10. Book Review: Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache.







Overview:
The first two lines of Speak sound like they could come from just about any 14-year-old on her first day of ninth grade. But Melinda Sordino is not just any high school newbie. Her parents don't know what to do with her, her friends have turned against her, and she is an outcast to everyone else before she even boards the school bus - all because of what happened one night in August, shortly before school started. But her parents don't know what happened at all, and her friends and the other kids only know part of what happened. And the part they don't know - the secret Melinda harbors deep inside herself, the secret she is afraid to voice - is the part she desperately needs to tell. If only someone would listen.

For Teachers and Librarians:
Speak is one of those books. You know - a book with a story that truly "gets" what it's like to be a teenager, and to wade through that confusing place known as high school, and to figure out that confusing time known as the teen years. It is also a book about sexual assault, and depression; those are very hard things to deal with for adults, let alone teens. But, it is also about being true to yourself, about learning to trust those who deserve to be trusted, and about digging deep within yourself - with the help of someone you trust - to discover the strength to overcome, and to heal, and most importantly...to not be silent when you are wronged. It gives a voice to the voiceless, a ray of light to those trapped in darkness, a measure of hope to those who see none. It will open many, many doors - a welcome thing for so many teens who have been unable to open them on their own.

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
Speak shows both the dangers that come from keeping things hidden, as well as the positive results that come from speaking out. It shows the undeserved power given to those who hurt us when we remain silent, and the rightful shift of power back to us when we stand up for ourselves. It shows that trust comes in small steps, but the more steps we take, the stronger that bond becomes. It shows the profound effect even one caring teacher can have on a teen. It shows that while families may be broken, with even a little bit of effort on all sides, those families can heal. It is a story of hurt, and of healing; of sorrow, and of joy. It can be just the thing to coax your teen to talk to you. It can be just the thing for you to start to make some sense of behaviors you may be seeing in your teen. It is a journey - one that you and your teen won't want to miss.

For the Older Kids:
If you're looking for a book that gets it right - one that gets what it's really like to be a teen - then Speak is a book you've gotta read. Whether you're someone who feels lost, or alone, or hurt, or angry, or doesn't feel like anyone understands you, or if you just know someone who seems like something's not quite right, and you're looking for ways to figure out how to help them, Speak is a good place to start. It is a story that will stick with you. It will make you laugh sometimes, and cry sometimes. Sometimes it will make you angry, and sometimes it will make you think, and sometimes it will make you cheer, and sometimes you'll see yourself in there, and sometimes you'll see someone you know in there. It is a book you will never, ever forget, and you will be glad you read it.

For Everyone Else:
Speak. Find it. Read it. 'Nuff said.

Wrapping Up:
Speak has meant many things to many people, from teens to adults. Below is a video of the author, reading her poem, "Listen," which was inspired by the emails and letters she has received from those who have read Speak. ***Note: Not something for the little kiddos to view. Teens and adults only:


Title: Speak (10th Anniversary Edition)
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Cover Illustration: Michael Morgenstern
Pages: 240
Reading Level: Young adult
Publisher and Date: Penguin Group, 2009
Edition: 10th Anniversary paperback
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $11.99
ISBN-10: 0142414735
ISBN-13: 978-0142414736


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11. Kristen Stewart Speaks, a bit

Thanks to everyone who voted for Zoe in the last couple of weeks, and to everyone who put up with me blathering on about voting for Zoe in the last couple of weeks. I'm pretty sure she didn't make the Top 5. We'll know for sure in January. It was a blast to have a book that was even considered breakfast food for the mind; I'm a happy camper.

A Facebook Friend (thanks Chris!) pointed me to this interview with Kristen Stewart for Irish television. She mentions playing the lead in the SPEAK movie around the 4:30 mark.



Here is a Public Service Announcement Kristen made about college campus security and high rate of sexual assault at colleges.



And because I promised someone, here is a shot from the filming of SPEAK. That's me in my world-famous role as "Lunch Lady." Kristen Stewart, as Melinda,  is standing with her back to the camera, about to go through the line to get her lunch. This is where my highly acclaimed, tension-filled moment "serves mashed potatoes" occurs. Really, when you think about it, it was the climax to the whole film.



Good Samhain to all! Now our world slips into the dark half of the year. We light candles and tell tales around the fire.

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12. When the People Speak

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

This weekend, James S. Fishkin, Professor of Communication and Political Science at Stanford University and Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy, will conduct a Deliberative Poll® in Michigan. A 9780199572106scientific sample of 200+ people will convene in Lansing to deliberate about the state’s economic future, and in the end, the poll will reveal what the public thinks about these issues, both before and after it has had a chance to become informed.

Fishkin’s most recent book, When the People Speak: Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation, explains this method of polling. It combines a new theory of democracy with actual practice, and has demonstrated how an idea that harks back to ancient Athens can be used to revive modern democracies. Fishkin and his collaborators have already conducted deliberative democracy projects in the United States, China, Britain, Denmark, Australia, Italy, Bulgaria, Northern Ireland, and in the entire European Union. These projects have resulted in the massive expansion of wind power in Texas, the building of sewage treatment plants in China, and greater mutual understanding between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

When the People Speak is accompanied by a DVD of “Europe in One Room” by Emmy Award-winning documentary makers Paladin Invision. The film recounts one of the most challenging deliberative democracy efforts with a scientific sample from 27 countries speaking 21 languages. Watch the trailer after the jump.

EUROPE IN ONE ROOM
Courtesy of the Center for Deliberative Democracy

Click here to view the embedded video.

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13. Sharp Shot

by Jack Higginswith Justin RichardsPenguin / Speak 2009Bond movies were the first place I encountered the idea of a story starting with an action sequence that was unrelated (or tangentially at best) to the rest of the story. The idea was to get the blood pumping with Bond in some perilous chase, have him come out victorious, slide into the title sequence, then into the story at hand.It's an

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14. Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

Kate Malone is one of those over-achievers; every school has one. Not only is she a straight-A student with especially outstanding grades in math and science, she also happens to be a long distance-running track superstar. She is a minister's daughter. She is dating Mitchell "Mitch" Pangborn III, who is got accepted Early Decision into Harvard. She is the unwilling caretaker of her family, between the death of her mother and the religious duties of her father, Kate is left with most of the house chores. On top of all this, she is a master of avoiding emotions. However, her emotional avoidance skills get put to the test after a series of cataclysmic events turn her life upside-down.

The storyline is pretty good. No complaints about the seriousness of the aforementioned cataclysmic events, they are really quite life changing. The story is easy to relate to, especially for high school students. All high school seniors share a good degree of nervousness over college acceptance. Also, the characters are pretty unique, yet stereotypical. Sound contradicting? It is. Kate Malone, for example, is a classic example of the overachiever student everyone knows will go to some Ivy League school and invent some radical new piece of technology. However, she is not so simple. Sure, she is smart, but she only applies to one school, MIT. Anderson is a master of creating believable, yet unique characters with refreshing amounts of wit. She also develops her characters, and their relationships with one another, beautifully.

Another aspect of Anderson's writing I simply love is her mastery of changing points of view. Not from first person to third person, but changing the way people see the world around them. As the characters' view of one another and the surrounding world change, so also do the reader's. The reader follows the characters' journey as if he/she were a part of it.

The story is set in the same community as Speak, which is pretty exciting if you've read Speak. If you haven't read Speak, what are you waiting for? I gave it five out of five daggers! That's more than enough to convince you to read it. Anyways, there's a great moment in Catalyst where Kate Malone refers to Melinda from Speak, got to love it.

If you've read this far, congratulations. You have patience. Some call it a virtue. As a reward, you get to hear my negative criticism for Catalyst. First things first, it's not as good as Speak. Speak was more humorous, more emotional, and (from a certain angle) more believable. Catalyst wasn't far-fetched. However, the way the events snowball and cause this sort of domino effect makes the story seem less likely to ever happen to a real life person (however, I'm sure someone is going to get lucky). Also, I felt much sorrier for Melinda than for Kate.

Nevertheless, Catalyst was most certainly enjoyable.

4 potentially painful daggers, out of the potentially more painful 5.


3 Comments on Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson, last added: 1/8/2010
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15. Batting Monday Clean-up

You know the sound a car engine makes at the RPMs are climbing and you are preparing to shift into the next gear?

Make that sound in your mind right now.

I'm getting ready to shift gears and go full throttle on a number of projects.

Before I can do that, though, I have to clean off a couple of desks and check off the last items on a few to-do lists. And close a bunch of tabs that have been open for weeks while I wait for the right moment to blog about them.

Here's a short article about a recent Skype visit I did with 6th graders who had read CHAINS.

CHAINS also made the "A More Perfect Union" Bookself, a program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The chosen books will be distributed to 4,000 school (K-12) and public libraries. Why? The NEH says "As the American people begin observing the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, NEH seeks to promote reflection among young people on the idea of the United States as a “union.”" I was excited to see that my friend Pam Muñoz Ryan's book, When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson, is also on the list. I was honored that W.E.B. Dubois's, The Souls of Black Folk, is on the list, too. Be sure to check out the whole list!

Over at YA BookSelf, they've posted an article comparing rejection letters to SPEAK. What do you think of it?

At last, but certainly not least, Wendy at SimpleThrift (a terrific blog about living a frugal and creative life while raising kids) has been naming her chickens after her favorite authors. She just posted a short and fun Good Egg Interview with me because....

  (photo credit Wendy Thomas)

she named this little girl "Laurie Halse Anderson."

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16. Video Sunday

I'm thinking of making Sunday into video day on my blog. What do you think?

Here's a video that was sent to me by Tony, who is a future English teacher (student teaching this fall) in Pennsylvania. He wrote this song based on SPEAK and the stories of some friends of his who were raped.



If you want to tell Tony what you think about this, go to his YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/fattloc

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17. This guy thinks SPEAK is pornography

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Remember last September, when the book banners crawled out of their pits of nastiness to try to remove YA literature from classrooms and libraries?

It is September again, my friends.

Wesley Scroggins is an associate professor of management at Missouri State University. He was also a speaker at Reclaiming Missouri for Christ, a recent seminar whose purpose was to “To educate our pastors, legislators, educators, students, and all citizens as to the truth about America’s Christian Heritage and the role of fundamental, Biblical Christianity in the establishment and function of our legal, legislative, and educational system, and to work towards the successful reestablishment of these values in our society.”

(Note: I love Jesus. My dad is a United Methodist minister. I point out Scroggins’ affiliation with this group so readers can understand his larger agenda.)

Wesley wrote an opinion piece in the News-Leader of Springfield, MO, in which he characterized SPEAK as filthy and immoral. Then he called it “soft pornography” because of two rape scenes.

The fact that he sees rape as sexually exciting (pornographic) is disturbing, if not horrifying. It gets worse, if that’s possible, when he goes on to completely mischaracterize the book.

Some people say that I shouldn’t make a big deal about this. That I am giving him more attention than he deserves. But this guy lives about an hour and half from the school district that banned Sherman Alexie’s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN this month.

My fear is that good-hearted people in Scroggins’ community will read his piece and believe what he says. And then they will complain to the school board. And then the book will be pulled and then all those kids who might have found truth and support in the book will be denied that. In addition, all the kids who have healthy emotional lives but who hate reading, will miss the chance to enjoy a book that might change their opinion.

All because some wingnut grabbed the opinion page of his newspaper, bellowed his lies, and no one challenged him.

I have already received incredible support on Facebook and in my inbox. Paul Hankins, an English teacher from Indiana, has started a Twitterfeed -  #SpeakLoudly  – where people can tweet their opinions. And my hero, Judy Blume, wrote to say she is bringing this nonsense to the attention of the National Council Against Censorship.

(I must confess – receiving a message from Judy Blume made me shriek a little. I am such a fangrrl of hers.)

I love the support from the blogosphere, but am concerned that the people in Scroggins’ community who might be swayed by his nonsense are not reading those blogs or following Twitter feeds on the topic. So I am writing to the school district superintendent and to the newspaper. But I know (because I’ve been here before) that my comments will likely be greeted with scepticism because I have a vested interest in the process.

I need your help.

Please share your experiences with SPEAK; your own response to the book, or the way you’ve seen it work in a school setting. Tahleen has already posted her thoughts on her blog. You can do the same. Please share links to your blog in Comments.

But then, plea

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18. #SpeakLoudly

The fact that there are people who think teens shouldn’t read a YA novel about rape, who call Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak “soft pornography”, only makes the book that much more important. Rape and sexual assault occur with alarming frequency, yet 60% of these crimes are not reported to the police. Books like Speak can help victims find their voice, and we desperately need them for this reason.

Many, many other bloggers have written eloquently about this, more articulately than I can. And I have so much admiration for the survivors who are sharing their own stories.

Reclusive Bibliophile is compiling posts. Please read them.


Filed under: Book News

3 Comments on #SpeakLoudly, last added: 9/21/2010
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19. Speak Loudly

So I was out of town this past weekend and the day job has been pretty busy so it wasn’t until late Monday night when I got a chance to read up on the latest censorship battle of one of my favorite books, Speak.

I then went over and read Laurie Halse Anderson’s post on the issue.

See here’s the thing with me:

I don’t have a problem with people voicing their opinions about books. I don’t even have a problem with people saying that certain “subjects” in books are inappropriate for a certain audience (in this case teens). I don’t even have a problem with people forbidding the teens that live in their house to read such books.

What I do have a problem with are people who tell me that these books are bad and should be censored and forbid the teens that live in my home to read such books.

Because you see that’s my job.

As a writer it goes even further because then it becomes that whatever I choose to write about — when it’s deemed controversial or salacious or even my favorite word — gratuitous — that I can’t write it or that it should be banned. That I should write about “safe” things.

I can write whatever I want.

It’s the reader’s choice to decide if they want to read it.

For me, this type of censorship is wrong. And the irony is that 9 times of out 10, most of these challenged/banned books have not even been read cover to cover. Or they’ve been read of context. Or worse not read at all.

Taking a book away from teens that a selected few deem unfit is censorship.

Anyway, this has hit a nerve with me. I plan on buying 10 copies of Speak and donating them to my library this week.

And to all of my fellow writers, not only SPEAK LOUDLY but WRITE LOUDLY.

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20. The Power Of Speaking Loudly

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When I sat down on Sunday morning to write my blog post about the book banning  in Republic, MO, I had no idea what I started.

You – my readers – changed the world this week.

It started when Paul Hankins, an English teacher in Indiana, started a dedicated Twitter feed, #speakloudly, to spread the word about the banning.  The word spread quickly and it became one of the most Tweeted topics of the weekend.

EVERYONE spoke loudly. Thousands of people linked to my post and recommended it on Facebook and on their own blogs. One social media expert said that based on the Facebook recommendations alone, he estimated that 350,000 heard about the banning.

Then Jezebel.com resyndicated by blog. Huffington post wrote about it. Twice. So did Salon.com.

As if all of that weren’t astounding enough, many readers posted their own stories about being silenced, about being sexually assaulted, about speaking up, about being a Christian tired of seeing other Christians invoking the Bible as justification for censorship, and about how Speak changed their lives.

The Reclusive Bibliophile has compiled a list of some of these posts. Want to feel better about the state of the world? Read a couple of them. There is even one for Spanish speakers. And Swedish.

If I said “thank you” every minute for the next hundred years of my life, it would not be enough gratitude for this outpouring of support and for your loud defense of the freedom to read, to think, and to speak up. I will hold that gratitude in my heart forever. And probably burst into tears whenever I meet one of you. (Please bring Kleenex if you’re coming to hear me speak on my next tour.)

(For the record, as all of this has been happening, I’ve been traveling for meetings and a bookseller trade show. Thank goodness for wireless connections!!)

Here is the latest from Republic, MO.

The local newspaper ran an article in which Scroggins, the book banner, claimed he never called the challenged books “pornography.” This, despite the fact that he clearly did in both his editorial and his original complaint to the school board.

The newspaper also ran my editorial, in which I set the record straight about Speak, and

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21. Banned Book Week: Speak Up, and Pick Up a Good Book

Did you know it’s Banned Book Week? I think this is especially poignant with the recent attempt at challenging Laurie Halse Anderson’sSpeak and Twisted; Ellen Hopkins’ disinvite and the censorship of Burned; and the recent challenge of Jo Knowles’ Lessons from a Dead Girl. Those are all wonderful, powerful, truly *important* YA books that deserve to reach people–that teens and adults should have the chance to discover and read.

I may be extra sensitive to book banning, since my parents literally burned and tore up some of my favorite books, and prevented me from having access to books through removing all my books for weeks at a time as punishment when I (quite desperately) depended on books as survival. And also because they consistently tried to silence me.

Books are so important, and a way for people to find validation, support, and information in a safe way that they wouldn’t otherwise find out about. They offer healing, a widening of the world and of dreams, and for me, they have been soul food. So to hear about people trying to prevent others from reading any book makes me angry. If you don’t want to read a book yourself, that’s fine–walk away from it. But to try to keep a book from everyone, or from a group of people? That’s not okay.

I found one of my favorite picture books, And Tango Makes Three, about a gay penguin couple, through book banning and challenges. So sometimes book banning may help to get the word out…to *some* people. But it prevents others from finding these wonderful books, and it saddens and angers me that this happens at all–and still happens today. To me it seems like an act of oppression, and of power. Something I’m quite familiar with.

I hope you’ll consider buying (or borrowing) and reading some of these banned books–and sharing them with others. I hope, too, that you’ll

3 Comments on Banned Book Week: Speak Up, and Pick Up a Good Book, last added: 9/26/2010
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22. They laughed. They cried. They wept.

So my presentation yesterday at the SCBWI Oregon Spring conference went over nicely. The grandmas went missing just before I was supposed to go up and talk. I think they got lured into the tea room.

I was in extremely good company. Mark Fearing spoke just before me on Graphic Novels. He’s an amazing illustrator and also an animator (animators RULE). He’s got a graphic novel coming out in 2011, which sounds really promising - so look for it!

At the end of his talk, Mark said something really awesome. It was about rules and how he doesn’t like them when it comes to talking about getting your work sold.

You know how I am about rules. There are so many ways to approach any endeavor. People can have success with completely opposite approaches.

My talk was about not creating art in the computer, based on this blog post. The title sounds very rules-ish, right?

In fact, before,during, and after my talk I learned that at least three artists in the room (including Mark Fearing) create their art directly in the computer.

It’s a perfect example of not applying stuff people tell you (me included) about how to create your art. The rules are, there ain’t no rules.

I can talk on the blog and in my digital illustration course about my approach to creating digital art. It works for me. It’s a proven method and lots of people buy my stuff.

Regardless, if it goes against what works for you, then please do one of two things:

  1. Ignore me. Move along, nothing to see here. Do your thing.
  2. Tell me about it so I can share it with my people.

One of my grander plans for the digital illustration school is to bring in guest illustrators to demo their methods. There are as many methods as there are people and I think this would be a huge help to students - knowing that there isn’t just one way.

So my talk went well. People seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say and I think they were entertained. Here’s a sampling of some of the images I brought up to demonstrate my points…

 

My head floating out of a robot. At least they knew I would be weird right up front.

My head floating out of a robot. At least they knew I would be weird right up front.

 

I used Jenni's bread to talk about illustration. Yep. Officially wacko.

I used Jenni's bread to talk about illustration. Yep. Officially wacko.

 

I also used coffee to talk about illustration. Where was I going with this?

I also used coffee to talk about illustration. Where was I going with this?

 

Believe me, I knew they were wondering.

Believe me, I knew they were wondering.

It's a NASA flight control panel. If you weren't there, you wouldn't understand.

It's a NASA flight control panel. If you weren't there, you wouldn't understand.

 

My first attempt at creating art in the computer. Hideous, scary, and really, really bad.

My first attempt at creating art in the computer. Hideous, scary, and really, really bad.

 

A recent illustration for Highlights Magazine. I eventually figured out a method.

A recent illustration for Highlights Magazine. I eventually figured out a method.

 

The final pencil sketch for the Highlights High Five illo. It was "done" before I even went to the computer.

The final pencil sketch for the Highlights High Five illo. It was "done" before I even went to the computer.

There was more to it than these slides show. I wish you had been there.

It was fun. People laughed at me (thank god).

I think the reason I felt good about it was that aside from the little slide show, I pretty much “winged” my talk. Sure, I knew where I was going, I rehearsed a few things. Mostly it was conversational and that made it much more relaxed for me and (I think) the audience.

I think I helped some people, which was the whole point of me standing in front of them and waving my arms around while talking about weird stuff like bread. 

If I gave even one person in the audience a seed of an idea about how to use their computer to create illustration, then I succeeded.

If I made them hungry, then my plan for total world domination kicked off nicely.

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23. Why Text Language Spelling Should Get a Criminal Record

I absolutely HATE text language. Nothing in the world annoys me more than seeing someone type in text language. Okay, I do use the occasional text language phrase like ‘you’ becomes ‘u’ and ‘are’ becomes ‘r’. I do use the occasional acronym like ‘to be honest’ becomes ‘tbh’, ‘laughing out loud’ becomes ‘lol’ and ‘by the way’ becomes ‘btw’. I think a text language vocabulary of up to 20 words should be tolerated. (Mine only reaches like 5 which is better but…! ) But when situations worsen to a point where you see someone write ‘I am busy right now’ in text language and it looks like ‘i m bc ryt nw’, at that point, you really want to bang your head on the nearest wall until your eyes pop out and even Homer Simpson seems as attractive as Brad Pitt.

Here is my list of why text language spelling should officially be allowed to get a criminal record (or better still - imprisonment) if exceeded by 20 words in its vocabulary list:

  1. It makes you sound like a 2 year old. 2 year olds can’t type and when you type text spelling, it looks like you can’t type, thus making you look like a 2 year old.
  2. It makes you sound illiterate. It feels like your mum and dad denied you the basic education you should have deserved.
  3. It makes you look like you are so poverty stricken that your keyboard has been bashed by a cow but you still won’t replace it.
  4. Text spelling seems to worm its way to exam papers and other official pieces of papers and THAT is despicable.
  5. It looks like jumbled letters. It really looks like you are trying to teach little Molly how to read and write.
  6. Using text language is denying other people the right to read. When they look at random letters, no punctuation and no use of the teensiest bit of decent grammar, then their mind goes into delirium whether what they are reading is proper or not, thus corrupting their minds.
  7. Children will become weird because of text language and will take over the world with signs and posters and literally everything sounding that way.
  8. Teachers won’t be able to correct exam papers because if the students use text spelling and the teachers can’t (I’m pretty sure half the teachers think ‘lol’ means lolling about because we find something funny, which really, makes no sense at all) that’s illiteracy stepped up a notch and a waste of doing exams anyway. As it is, the British government education folk are worried exams are getting easier by the second.
  9. On a much more realistic note, text spelling is going out of fashion. More and more people shun it and funnily enough shun those who still use it, so if you use it, stop. Or you’ll find yourself tied to a pole near the bus stop getting thrashed by a bunch of geekily cool teenagers.

I know that was a pretty angry rant but, let’s face the facts, text language spelling isn’t great! If anything at all, it is wasteful. People say it reduces the effort to type but it increases the effort to read. Let’s all type decently and read decently and not become slaves to ‘txt lngage splng’ (or for normal people, text language spelling).

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24. Why Text Language Spelling Should Get a Criminal Record

I absolutely HATE text language. Nothing in the world annoys me more than seeing someone type in text language. Okay, I do use the occasional text language phrase like ‘you’ becomes ‘u’ and ‘are’ becomes ‘r’. I do use the occasional acronym like ‘to be honest’ becomes ‘tbh’, ‘laughing out loud’ becomes ‘lol’ and ‘by the way’ becomes ‘btw’. I think a text language vocabulary of up to 20 words should be tolerated. (Mine only reaches like 5 which is better but…! ) But when situations worsen to a point where you see someone write ‘I am busy right now’ in text language and it looks like ‘i m bc ryt nw’, at that point, you really want to bang your head on the nearest wall until your eyes pop out and even Homer Simpson seems as attractive as Brad Pitt.

Here is my list of why text language spelling should officially be allowed to get a criminal record (or better still - imprisonment) if exceeded by 20 words in its vocabulary list:

  1. It makes you sound like a 2 year old. 2 year olds can’t type and when you type text spelling, it looks like you can’t type, thus making you look like a 2 year old.
  2. It makes you sound illiterate. It feels like your mum and dad denied you the basic education you should have deserved.
  3. It makes you look like you are so poverty stricken that your keyboard has been bashed by a cow but you still won’t replace it.
  4. Text spelling seems to worm its way to exam papers and other official pieces of papers and THAT is despicable.
  5. It looks like jumbled letters. It really looks like you are trying to teach little Molly how to read and write.
  6. Using text language is denying other people the right to read. When they look at random letters, no punctuation and no use of the teensiest bit of decent grammar, then their mind goes into delirium whether what they are reading is proper or not, thus corrupting their minds.
  7. Children will become weird because of text language and will take over the world with signs and posters and literally everything sounding that way.
  8. Teachers won’t be able to correct exam papers because if the students use text spelling and the teachers can’t (I’m pretty sure half the teachers think ‘lol’ means lolling about because we find something funny, which really, makes no sense at all) that’s illiteracy stepped up a notch and a waste of doing exams anyway. As it is, the British government education folk are worried exams are getting easier by the second.
  9. On a much more realistic note, text spelling is going out of fashion. More and more people shun it and funnily enough shun those who still use it, so if you use it, stop. Or you’ll find yourself tied to a pole near the bus stop getting thrashed by a bunch of geekily cool teenagers.

I know that was a pretty angry rant but, let’s face the facts, text language spelling isn’t great! If anything at all, it is wasteful. People say it reduces the effort to type but it increases the effort to read. Let’s all type decently and read decently and not become slaves to ‘txt lngage splng’ (or for normal people, text language spelling).

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25. Autumn, with the smell of book banning in the air

(Yes, I know this is a long post. With no pictures. It's important. Please read through to the end. And then pass it on.)

While I was out of town last week, I received word of three attempts to remove two of my books from high school classrooms, TWISTED and SPEAK.

The challenge I have the least information on is apparently taking place at Downingtown West High School in Downingtown, PA.
TWISTED is on the 9th grade summer reading list there. Some parents object to the book because of the description of sexual behavior in it.

The second TWISTED challenge is taking place this week at Montgomery High School in Mt. Sterling, KY. A parent there feels the book is inappropriate.

Here is a quote from the draft of the letter I am sending to the Mt. Sterling superintendent:

"I suspect the roots of the parental concern about TWISTED are the scenes in which teenagers make stupid, dangerous, and occasionally horrifying decisions.

Why on earth would someone like me put things like that in a book?

Because readers who can experience those decisions – by reading about them – and appreciate the consequences of those actions - by seeing those consequences affect the lives of a book’s characters - are less likely to do the stupid, dangerous and occasionally horrifying things themselves.

Jesus knew this. He did not simply reiterate the Ten Commandments, or tell us to love one another and walk back into the desert. He told stories that made his listeners think. They make us think two thousand years later.

Storytelling is the traditional vehicle mankind uses to pass wisdom from one generation to the next. TWISTED contains a lot of bad decisions, hard consequences, and wisdom.

In an addendum to this letter, you will find a listing of the state and national awards TWISTED has received. They were all very flattering, but none of them mean nearly as much to me as the email I get from readers. Here are a few quotes from them.

“I just wanted to say thank you for writing this book. I have been considering killing myself for many years and now i am entering my junior year of high school and about 10 minutes ago finished this book. It has given me a new perspective on life and that death isn’t the easy way out. I can relate to Tyler in many ways… I greatly appreciate this book because now I know that there is hope in my life and that death is not the answer. And one more thing this is the only book I have been able to pick up and not put down from start to finish. I finished it in one day.”

“… I read "Twisted" today. I started around 4, and I couldn't stop, I finished at 9:40. This book, was so eerily similar to my life, not completely, because I haven't done any "Foul Deeds" (haha), and I don't have the same "Bethany" situation, but my father is so much like Tyler's, it sounded like he was based off him. He yells about grades constantly, to the point of making my house unhappy. I've considered suicide before and told no one, just buried it. I know this sounds strange, but I connected to this book in a very strange way. I can't explain it, I just did. I've never sat down and read a book cover to cover, but for some reason, I couldn't stop… But, I mean, this sounds silly, but I just want to thank you for writing that book. I feel different now, I know it may not make perfect sense, but this book changed part of me. So, thank you.”

 

"...Twisted really got to me. I've had 3 suicide attempts and the way you wrote the way he was feeling, and the hopelessness and complete unhappiness he had to deal with really hit home with me. You really nailed it... After finishing twisted I realized how much of a miracle life is, and how problems are only temporary. I could honestly bore you with a 3 page email explaining to you all I've learned and connected with from your writing. Basically I really appreciate and look up to you and your work."

 

 

Those emails, sir, are the reason I write hard, true, literary books for teenagers."

If you are looking to get a head start on observing
Banned Books Week, feel free to write to the schools involoved with these challenges. PLEASE, I BEG YOU: be civilized and polite!! Our country is suffering an influenza of rudeness. Calling names and heaping scorn does not further discussions or change attitudes. It just builds the barricades higher.

If you have personal experience with TWISTED, as a reader, a parent, an educator, or a librarian, please share those experiences (in a positive, constructive way) with these people:

DOWNINGTOWN WEST HIGH SCHOOL, DOWNINGTOWN PA

Nancy Robinson
English Dept. Chairperson
Downingtown High School, West
nrobinson@dasd.org

John Nodecker
Principal
Downingtown High School, West
jnodecker@dasd.org


Dr. Lawrence J. Mussoline
Superintendent
Downingtown Area School District
I was unable to find a direct email for Dr. Mussoline. Try
info@dasd.org. Maybe lmussoline@dasd.org might work.


MONTGOMERY HIGH SCHOOL, MT. STERLING, KY

Tammy Haydon
Review Committee chair
tammy.haydon@montgomery.kyschools.us

Dr. Daniel Freeman
Superintendent of Montgomery County Schools
daniel.freeman@montgomery.kyschool.us

Please also remember to send prayers and support to the teachers forced to deal with these challenges. Being a teacher is one of the most important, and one of the hardest jobs in the world. Having your professional integrity called out by an attempt to ban books in your classroom is a devastating attack. My heart goes out to all of the students, teachers, staff, and community members who are standing up to the attempts of a vocal minority to impose their will and their taste in literature upon an entire school.

In the Good News column, SPEAK has survived a book banning attempt in Temecula, CA. The complaining parent in Temecula said SPEAK was "smutty" and "pornographic." The LA Times newspaper did a great job covering the controversy; it published an article about the
background of the challenge, and another one after the school board voted to keep the book in curriculum.

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and the National Coalition against Censorship have joined forces to create the
Kids' Right to Read Project (KRRP). It is a brilliant, powerful, and much-appreciated collaboration. KRRP wrote to the Temecula Valley Unified School District to protest the attempt to ban SPEAK.

I love the KRRP letter.

I used to get really angry at these things because I felt they were a personal attack on me. Then I grew up.

Now I get angry because book banning is bad for my country. It is an attack on the Constitution and about the core ideals of America. It is the tool of people who want to control and manipulate our children.

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in 1953 that the “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”


What do you think? What are you doing to fight book banning?

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