Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Censorship: 2011 Teen Lit Fest in Humble, Texas

The story, in brief:

Noted YA author Ellen Hopkins is invited to attend the 2011 Teen Lit Conference in Humble, Texas, and graciously accepts. A middle school librarian gets a bee in her bonnet about Ellen's presence, deems it "inappropriate," and some parents get involved. They take the matter to the school superintendent, Guy Sconzo, and Ellen Hopkins is rudely, crudely uninvited. Once again proof that a few people can ruin a great thing for everyone.

I've had the pleasure of hearing Ellen Hopkins speak on numerous occasions, and she RAILS against drug abuse. WIth passion she speaks of the tragedy drugs have brought to her own family, so generously sharing her heartbreak in the hope that she can keep other kids from going down that self destructive path. Her books about the devastation that methamphetamine use brings to a human life are probably the greatest drug deterrent I can think of. But goodness gracious, let's prevent kids from reading them!

Because kids are so much better off NOT knowing about the negative influence of drugs! It's best if kids get their information on the street, from their peers, about the effects of meth, crack, pot and the like! In fact, let's get rid of all books for kids that deal with sex and drugs! Let's pretend these things don't exist and let kids find out about them on their own through trial and error while reading wholesome novels about puppies. Good plan folks.

To show support for Ellen Hopkins and to protest censorship the following authors have pulled out of the festival: Pete Hautman, Melissa De La Cruz, Matt De La Pena, and Tera Lynn Childs, and probably more will follow. I applaud Ms. Hopkins for bringing this issue forward instead of going quietly into the night. She's standing up for herself, for literature, and for kids, and we should all stand with her.


  1. I just read about this on another blog, too. I'm so saddened that people feel they can impose their (stupid, backwards-thinking) beliefs on other people's children this way. If you don't want your children to hear a speaker or read her books, deal with it yourself. Have the guts to tell your kids, "I know everyone else is going to the teen lit festival, but we don't believe that one of the speakers' work is appropriate for you." (And deal with the repercussions of that in your own household.) It is, in my opinion as a parent, *terrible* parenting to show your children that the appropriate response to an opposing opinion is to bully the other opinion away.

  2. Well said, Amy! I, too, have met Ellen, and seen her speak (and I've read her books), and I think you summarize it brilliantly when you state that she "generously shares her heartbreak in the hope that she can keep other kids from going down that self destructive path."

    The one thing literature must be is honest. There are those who would rather avoid honest discussions with teens, which is fine. But for those people to prevent others who choose to from engaging in honest discussions is sad and destructive.