Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ban This! Author Bites - Holly Schindler

Below Holly takes a look at the danger of books . . . thanks for contributing, Holly!

Book banning recently hit disturbingly close to home when Republic, Missouri chose to ban Vonnegut’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE and Ockler’s TWENTY BOY SUMMER from the school library. Shortly thereafter, another disturbing story broke: a female student in Republic reported a sexual assault by another student, only to be disbelieved, suspended, even forced to apologize. When allowed to return to school, she reported a second assault; DNA from a rape kit confirmed an attack did in fact take place, and matched the boy the female student identified after the first alleged attack.

Okay, you’re saying. This story of sexual assault is disgusting. It’s horrific. It’s infuriating beyond all measure. Why is it being mentioned in a post about book banning?
Republic residents themselves linked the two events, as they organized a protest to the recent events, crying out, “Ban rape, not books.”

Which brings up an interesting question: just how dangerous are books?

We send our students to school believing they’ll be safe…but are books something that any teenager really needs protection from? As a society, we tell our teenagers that they are, in many ways, ready to lead an adult life. At sixteen, we put car keys in their hands. At eighteen, we allow them to enlist in the military. Are the ideas present in any book more dangerous than a vehicle? More dangerous than a gun, war?

I suppose the case could be made for the power of ideas. (That ideas are what lead to horrors like war…) But at eighteen, we put voter ID cards in teens’ hands. We tell them that they’re ready to help make decisions that shape our future as a country—but they need shielding from the concepts in works of literature?

Of course, as an author, I’m against banning of any book from any facility. Period. I do not support the removal of a book from any shelf. But I believe YA literature is important because it depicts characters who are navigating tough, adult situations for the first time—as are YA readers. YA characters are flawed, and while they stumble along the way, in the end, they succeed—they inspire readers to have faith that they will succeed, as well. That they, too, will find their place in this world.

Dangerous? Not in my book…
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