It's Banned Books Week. As long as you haven't been walking around with your head in a paper bag (and really, why would you want to do that? even I think it's weird), you already know this. Hopefully you've done something to support it. I bought a book that was challenged this year. I do it every year, and I say, "Neiner neiner neiner" when I do.
It makes the people at the bookstore look at me funny, but I'm used to that.
The thing that gets me about book banners is that in a lot of cases they're trying to 'protect' children from information that could help them deal with problems that they WILL face in some way or another. Way back in the day (i.e., about seven years ago), I used to administer youth risk behavior surveys. The reality is incontrovertible: these things are happening. Half of students grades 9-12 have had sex. Two-thirds of 12th graders have had sex. One in four 9-12th graders has engaged in binge drinking in the past 30 days. One in three have tried marijuana, increasing to half of 12th graders.
If you have children, these numbers are frightening. If you don't, they should still be frightening.
I should also note that these data come from the 2007 Centers for Disease Control youth risk behavior survey. You can find them here if you're interested. I'm not just making them up. Really.
Of course we all want to believe that it's not our kid, not our problem. After all, if half of these students are engaging in sexual activity, that means that half aren't. But that doesn't mean that they don't have questions. That doesn't mean that they don't have friends who are facing these issues. That doesn't mean that they don't need guidance.
And that's where these books can really help. Way back in the dark ages when I was a teen, I would have been mortified to discuss s-e-x with my parents. But I could read books about other teens making decisions about sex both good and bad, and it made me THINK. Of course it doesn't guarantee a good outcome, but thinking about the issues is a pretty darned good start, isn't it?
I don't know about you, but I could have avoided some pretty embarrassing situations if I had only stopped to think. There was this one time I fell off a cliff, for example...
But I'm not telling that story now. And no, I'm not making it up, either.
Anyway, I'm sure that I'm speaking to the choir here, but it's something I wanted to say. Removing the books that talk about these issues isn't going to make the issues disappear. Frankly, I'd argue that it's only going to make it worse.
A couple of nights ago, I had the honor and privilege of meeting Ellen Hopkins. She talked about her experiences with banning attempts on her books, and she handed out the most amazing poster. My signed copy is on my wall (neiner neiner neiner). My favorite quote is:
A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.
You can read more about the poem and the circumstances that inspired it here.
Okay, I've ranted long enough. You have more than earned the Twilight spoofage. Warning: it's PG-13 for violence and some bleeped out language. But it's beyond hilarious.
I give the awesome public service announcements at the end of the video my full endorsements as a health care provider for kids! "You kill vampires, not date them," is awesome and, "use protection," fits with the theme of today's blog beautifully! Nice work, babe, you gave me a much-needed chuckle after a LOOOOONG night!
Tee Hee, that made me laugh. Jealous you got to meet Ms. Hopkins.
GREAT poem. Video not playing. Grr.
That video was hilarious! I'm in a library quiet room right now so I had to put in the headphones... totally worth it!
Oh, and I agree on the banning of books issue. It gives me awful flashbacks of Fahrenheit 451.
OMG That video was so funny!
Those statistics are frightening!!! I just had "the talk" with my fifth grader, mostly because he now is in a school with 6-8th graders and I wanted him to learn the truth from us first. Slightly embarrassing but actually very good conversation!
Love that video.
Okay, that was too funny! As for the other topic, I have two teenagers, soon to be three, and those statistics are frightening. And about banned books; it's frightening too.
Banning books is counterintuitive. If you don't want your kid to read something, talk about how "hip" the book is in front of them and how "keen" it would be to see them read it. They will never, ever read that book, even if the title is "Bouncing Breasts and Exciting New Swear Words!"
Those stats are pretty scary! But what's more scary is that people think that pretending it away will help.
Knowledge is power—that has always been the case. Books open great dialogue, perfect moment for teaching if a teen wants to talk about it. And if not, they've at least seen what can happen without having to do it themselves.
I am insanely jealous of the poster, and I can't wait until I get home so I can watch the Twilight funny where I won't get, you know, fired. :)
You nailed it on Banned books. What's up with that anyway?
It seems like the whole concept of banned books should be relegated to the Mad Men era. It's a little shocking to me that books are still being banned. Ridiculous.
That video was hilarious.
You are so right on the whole banning of books concept. And those stats scare the zombie right out of me.
So wasn't expecting that in the little video. Cracked me up!
Great Post by the way. Makes me more confident about my new novel idea.
It almost sounds like somebody should write a book for young adults that delves into the issues from the first part of your blog. Do you perhaps know anyone that writes books? Like, for young adults, maybe?
Best Twilight spoof video EVER.
I love Ellen's poem -- so true. Ellen's brilliant.
Great poem - couldn't see the video, unfortunately. That is so true - no matter what people try to do, they can never destroy the ideas, and it's the ideas that they're scared of.
Agreed! Awesome poem. Loved the video, it made me snarf :)
Banning books just makes them instantly popular. I grew up in the 70's and the book Forever by Judy Blume was the naughty book of the moment. Of course I wasn't allowed to read it, so I enlisted my babysitter to get it for me. She smuggled it in my house in a small brown paper bag and made the drop as soon as my mom pulled out of the driveway.
I finished the book in like five hours.
Funny thing, I didn't grow up to be a deviant of any kind. Instead, I grew up to be a reader and a writer. Go figure.
p.s. that video = funny
Omigosh too funny!
BTW, loved the rant :)
I bought And Tango Makes Three for my kids (neiner neiner neiner)!
Btw, a good book on book burning, er, banning, is Fahrenheit 451. Firefighters actually start fires in this book, generally in the homes of those that dare to own books. I read that one back to back with Brave New World, another "beware the government" type book, which was also really cool.
I completely agree with your post!!
And what riles me up is that TV and movies can do all that sort of stuff, but books get banned. Arggh!!
Hmmm, must go purchase a banned book. Going to the library today in Utah...won't find any there, will I? Must.Find.Barnes.And.Noble....love the Twilight Spoof!!! If the book banners had their way...
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