First off, I did a guest blog post over at QueryTracker.net. Thanks so much to Suzette Saxton for giving me the opportunity!
I'm sure most of you have heard of the Speak/Slaughterhouse-Five/Twenty Boy Summer controversy. In honor of Banned Book Week, I've decided to share some thoughts on censorship.
First off, one of my favorite book series, His Dark Materials, made the top ten list of most challenged books in the past decade. It's not particularly surprising. His Dark Materials has content that could be considered anti-Christian, and many parents do not want their children exposed to literature which challenged their beliefs. Religious censorship in particular bothers me. If a person is sure of their faith, why would they object to reading books from all different points of view? For instance, I'm not Christian, but I still enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia. Why should kids not read from a wide variety of perspectives? After examining many religious angles, they will be more equipped to choose their own set of beliefs rather than having an adult choose for them.
While I understand parents censoring what young children read, it is beyond me why an adult would want to stop teenagers from reading literature with mature content. As a teen I feel my intelligence has been insulted. Do people think we don't know about rape and sex and drugs? The book Speak is often challenged for the rape scene, which is, in my opinion, poignant and sparse in terms of graphic description. Rape happens. It's important teenagers know about sexual violence, because having the right information is the only way to prevent it/seek help once it occurs. Shielding kids will only hurt them in the long run.
As writers and non-writers alike, I urge everyone to speak out against censorship. Other people should not be able to dictate what we can and can't read. To wrap up my little rant, here is a link to a poem by Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, composed entirely of snippets from letters she's received: Speak Up About Speak.