Rummanah Aasi
  I have always been apalled and outraged when I come across a book ban or challenge. I firmly believe each individual has a right to decide whether or not he/she wants to read a book. What I strongly oppose to is restricting others to express their same freedom to read. While others had a great Sunday relaxing and hanging out with friends and family, I was stewing and speechless after I read an incredibly stupid (that's putting it mildly) article about how books such Laurie Halse Anderson's Printz honored book Speak are deemed as 'soft porn'.
  Excuse me?! Speak is no where near soft porn. It is about a girl named Miranda, who is ostracized, and lost her ability to speak after a high school party. Speak is Miranda's journey to gain back her courage to fight against the injustice that was done to her. How is this anywhere near soft porn? Apparently, the writer of the article hasn't bothered to read the books he questions.
  I read Speak during my first year of library school. It opened up my eyes and made me cry. I cried not because I have experienced anything close to what Miranda has (thank God), but because I found a girl who was so lost and alone in her own problems that she was virtually silent. A girl who had no one to turn to and faced her own demons day after day until someone noticed and cared. A girl who developed strength, courage, and finally a voice to speak up. A girl who could be my mom or sister or friend.
  I know friends who have been sexually abused and had similar family issues like Miranda. In fact, my very good friend Angela is on a personal crusade to educate teens about abusive relationships. She is speaking to them from her own personal experience through lectures and blogging about it. I also know teens who have gone through similar experiences and feel that there is no one out there who cares for them. I also know teens who, thanks to books like Speak, can find help and have talked to adults about their problems. I have read the numerous teen responses on Laurie Halse Anderson's website that brought tears to my eyes and confirmed that Speak is a book that is meant to be read and discussed not taken out of a school curriculum. If you don't want your child to read it, fine, but let others decide for themselves.
 I can't tell you how many times I've recommended this book to adults and teens. Just this weekend alone I attended a public library book sale, I grabbed every copy that I could find of Speak. Not to buy, because I had my own copy of the book, but to tell teens and parents to buy it. I told them that if they buy one book in this book sale, let it be Speak because not only it is phenomenally written, it has a powerful message: Stand up and speak for yourself because no one else will. And do you know what? 9 out of 10 people did buy Speak. How about that Mr. Scroggins?!
  Because I feel so strongly about the power of Speak, I will be giving away 4 copies of the book internationally.  There is no need to follow my blog. Just leave me a comment with your email address at the end of this blog post. The giveaway will end on October 2nd.
 Thanks for letting me getting this off my chest. If you're wondering what the other books that were questioned, they are: the classic Vonnegut title Slaughter House Five (which tells about the World War II bombing of Dresden) and Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer (which centers around a girl who is mourning the death of her good friend). Let's face the reality, teens can be sexually active or even thinking about sex. Why not educate them about it in any form instead of not talking about it?   
14 Responses
  1. Safoora Says:

    Banning books (usually) makes people want to read them more and gives the book/author more publicity.
    However even if this may be the case, I still don't agree with almost all book bans.
    safoora.baig@gmail.com


  2. Ang Says:

    Rum YOU ROCK!!!! So proud of this blog. You are doing amazing things. My son's 10th grade honors English class just read this book and the dialogue it prompted has been phenomenal. Another couple great books about dating abuse your reader might appreciate are: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen and Breathing Under Water by Alex Finn both tackel dating abuse from different perspective and both are important in the conversation about abuse. Thanks again for all you do! You're FABULOUS@


  3. Daisy Says:

    I read the article, it's horrible! I can't believe that at in this age, people are still trying to ban books!

    I'm sad to say I haven't read Speak yet, but as I'm entering your awesome giveaway, maybe I'll get the chance to soon :)

    My e-mail: daisyjdebruin@gmail.com


  4. @Safoora: I agree with you.

    @Ang: No, THANK YOU for being the strong woman that you are. Thanks for those great suggestions!

    @Daisy: I hope you do get a chance to read the book. Good luck!


  5. Variety Says:

    I'm so glad I heard about this so I could SPEAK up for myself. I read SPEAK, and it is one of the best books I've ever read. It was emotional, draining, raw, and heart-wrenching. It is a book I want my kids to read when they are old enough to understand it.

    Don't bother entering me, I already own SPEAK. But if I had a better blog following, I'd give away my own copy.


  6. B. Says:

    Great post, Rum! I'm not entering to win a copy. I know someone who has one I can borrow. I just wanted to say thank you for championing this issue. Ya did great!


  7. @Variety: Thanks for speaking out!

    @B: Please do read it. You won't be disappointed!


  8. C.K. Says:

    Like B, I'm very grateful that you're standing up for Speak. A whopping 44% of sexual assault victims are under 18. If we don't examine issues like this, that fact will never change.


  9. Library Cat Says:

    Your post and the comments of other readers are astounding. I am amazed at the postitions people will take with very little knowledge of what they are talking about! I hate that books continue to be challenged for such reasons. I have already put this book on my TBR list, but I would love to win a copy.

    dfluharty at uwf dot edu


  10. Jenni Elyse Says:

    Well said, Rum! I also posted a post about this injustice because I feel so strongly about not banning books and especially limiting access to something that could help sexual assault victims heal and cope.

    meATjennielyseDOTcom


  11. Excellent - I just read that HuffPost article - you know that the Assoc Prof didn't read the books HE panned.

    Thanks for this fab offer...

    Robyn @ReadingItAll
    http://teensread.posterous.com


  12. I can't believe I haven't responded yet. Rum, thanks for highlighting this book (that I haven't read yet!) and for your efforts for challenged books everywhere. Look up the Three Wishes (by Deborah Ellis) controversy for an example of censorship north of you - people still don't want to go on record to talk about it!
    Please enter me in your contest. You know the email addy ;>


  13. @CK: I think what disturbs me the most is that this Professor associates sexual assault with porn.

    @Library Cat: The banners/challenges more likely than not have NOT read the books that they are against.

    @Fly: Yep, exactly!

    @Macphail: I did hear about this one. Looks like I might have to read it this coming week. Did you know that your beloved Sookie has been the most challenged series in your neck of the woods?


  14. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for the reminder about this on today's review post of The Handmaid's Tale. I read this book shortly after it was published, and it jolted my senses! I have been a follower of Atwood's dystopian novels ever since. Our high school library owns four copies of Speak, which checked out like wildfire after I booktalked it last week during a freshman orientation. We can always use another copy.
    Thanks,

    Alexandra Provence
    Berkeley High Librarian
    310 Seaview Drive
    El Cerrito, CA 94530


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