I had the honor to be included in the ALA’s Banned Books Week Read-Out on Saturday in Chicago. It was thrilling to meet some of the other authors on the 2008 most-challenged list: Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, Stephen Chbosky, Lauren Myracle, Chris Crutcher and Cecily von Ziegesar.
We met before noon in the Newberry Library, and then headed outside to Bughouse Square, where a nice crowd was waiting. Dubious weather meant we spoke under a tent, but the rain held off and the sun even came out eventually.
Chris Crutcher hosted the event and introduced each author. He spoke eloquently about his ultra-conservative father’s passionate defense of the first amendment and opposition to book-banning of any kind. Referring to the many challenges to books with homosexual characters, including my own, he said, “When we ban a book about a kid on the outside, we’re taking a step toward banning the kid.”
Stephen Chbosky read a letter from a teenager who said that reading his book had saved her from suicide.
Lauren Myracle shared a correspondence between herself and an angry parent, during which each came to a better understanding of the other, and moved from accusations to cordiality. She said that research shows that kids put books down of their own accord when they’re not ready for them.
Justin and Peter, authors of And Tango Makes Three, said that their response to challenges is that the constitution does not permit the suppression of ideas.
For more about challenges, see today’s Mombian: http://www.mombian.com/2009/09/29/authors-thoughts-on-attempts-to-ban-gay-guinea-pigs/
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