Thursday, September 20, 2012
Recently, a book I wrote seven years ago caused a stir in the Enfield Connecticut school system, resulting in its removal from a list of suggested Summer reading for incoming high school freshmen due to language and sexual references. Not only did this happen in my home state of CT but it was also covered by the local Connecticut broadcast news, twice. I wanted to elaborate on this since it's not every day your book gets banned, then reported on, so here goes. On one hand, I was surprised to hear that Sidescrollers was on a high school's suggested Summer reading list since it is a bit on the racy side. Not as inappropriate as Channel 3 spun it, but certainly not high literature. Sidescrollers is a fun slacker romp with some crass humor, and swearing (god forbid) but an overall positive, anti-bullying, message. Whether it belonged on a school reading list in the first place isn't for me to decide. I AM bothered by the Enfield Board of Education's knee-jerk reaction to yank it from their list and disallow the individual schools the ability to decide on titles all because of a single parent's complaint who's child apparently did not even attend this school. Schools are so frequently bullied by outside influences that they become overly sensitive to the slightest hint of controversy, resulting in a sterile and uninteresting curriculum. This neglects student development and could even forever stunt their interest in education. But when it boils down to it, the schools of Enfield have the right to do what they will and I respect their decision, however cowardly it may be. But never forget, kids aren't stupid. They deserve the freedom to explore new ideas for themselves even if some don't agree with them. I truly believe that kids, especially of high school age, should be free to read ANYTHING they want.
Author of Sidescrollers and the Salt Water Taffy series.
PS. Here's a few more links to coverage and responses to the books banning. I greatly appreciate every ones interest and support (especially the CBLDF and their affiliates), you are all amazing.
Robot 6 article
School Library Journal discussion
CBLDF's Charles Brownstein letter
CBLDF challenges the ban
at 12:59 PM