Really? Again? SPEAK labelled pornography



Oh, for heavens sakes.

A guy named Richard Swier in Florida thinks that SPEAK is “child pornography.”

I wish I were making that up.

SPEAK is cautionary tale about the emotional aftermath of rape. It tackles bullying, depression, rape, sexual harassment, and family dysfunction. It teaches children that when bad things happen, they need to speak up, even when it’s hard. It has given hope to tens of thousands of readers since 1999. It is a standard in curriculum across the country.

Swier’s quest would be laughable except that there are a couple of uninformed people who think that he knows what he’s talking about. Since he has picked apart my work, let me return the favor.

In this “article” (and I use that term loosely), Dick tries the fan the flames of horror. 

(Note to people who want to burn my book but can’t be bothered to read it in order to track down the swear words. Swier has done your job for you, complete with page references. Great job, Dick!)

Dick is a Tea Party activist. He has a lot of fascinating opinions. Writing for the Tea Party Nation in 2011, he said “The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) population in America is headed for extinction and with it our economy, well-being and survival as a uniquely America culture.”

Dick says the bullying of LGBT kids is not bullying, “It is peer pressure and is healthy. There are many bad behaviors such as smoking, under age drinking and drug abuse that are behaviors that cannot be condoned. Homosexuality falls into this category. Homosexuality is simply bad behavior that youth see as such and rightly pressure their peers to stop it.”

He also thinks that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the White House.

A round of applause, please, for the review committee at Laurel Nokomis School in Sarasota County, Florida, who, according to their policy, reviewed the book and decided to keep it.

The challenge now moves to the district level.



Speaking up for RAINN

I am very happy to announce that Macmillan (SPEAK’s publisher) and I have partnered with RAINN (America’s best anti-sexual violence organization) to create the SPEAK4RAINN campaign!


How can you help? (I’m  so glad you asked!)

Donate $10. (Look for the red donation button on the right)

Get your students involved. Have them enter the “How SPEAK Spoke To Me” Creative Contest.


Fundraise in your school for a chance to have me come and give a free school visit.

All month long I will be sharing information about ways to reduce the amount of sexual violence. If we all speak up and remember to listen, we can change the world.

Simply Sunday Catch-Up

This week’s Simply Saturday comes to you on Sunday. It’s been that kind of week!

 The first piece of news is for anyone who teaches Speak! Victor Malo-Juvera, who has taught Speak for years, researched and wrote his dissertation about how using Speak in the classroom changed his students’ attitudes about rape myths. He has generously written a summary for my website, and allowed me to link to his full dissertation. If you need data to take to your curriculum director or the chair of your English department, Victor has it waiting for you.

   We’ve had a Barred Owl hooting in the Forest this week.

   I prefer to call it a Bard Owl and imagine that it is composing sonnets.



 Sheila May-Stein, the new librarian at Pittsburgh’s Manchester PreK-8 school, was horrified to learn that her library had a grand total of 40 useable fiction books. She is using the power of social media to make sure that her students have the number and kinds of books that they deserve. I’m putting a box of books for them in the mail tomorrow. If you want to donate, send the books to Sheila May-Stein, Library, Pittsburgh Manchester PreK-8, 1612 Manhattan St., Pittsburgh, PA 15233. Even easier, you can order books to be sent directly to the school via Sheila’s Amazon Wish List. A longer blog post gives more information.

 You guys know that I have a very good relationship with my first husband, Greg. He runs a software company that makes patient management software for pediatricians. As part of his company’s charitable mission, Greg coordinates free health clinics in Jamaica, bringing down doctors, nurses, and medicine, and working with local medical teams to take these resources to where they are most needed on the island. Greg made this brief video about this year’s trip that I thought you might enjoy. We’re all very proud of him and the good work that he does.

I’m headed West on Thursday so I can speak to the Arizona English Teachers Association. Will I see you there?

Simply Saturday

The weather has cooled down nicely up here. Our wood for the winter arrives on Monday and its a darn good thing; we’re going to need fires in the woodstove to take the chill out of the air very soon.

Banned Books Week is almost upon us. What will you be doing to recognize it this year?

 Bookmans, an independent bookstore with six locations in Arizona, created this video for the 2012 Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out.

I have not heard any banning attempts on any of my books so far this school year. Have the censors moved on to other targets? Even though Speak was restored to the shelves of the high school in Liberty, MO, Slaughterhouse-Five was not.

In other news, Kristen Stewart named Speak as one of the three books that changed her life.

This PSA aired after the first showing of Kristen in the Speak movie. The hotline had never gotten such a tremendous response. Blew. Up. The. Phones.

Someone sent me a link to a recent interview in which she said that the response to both the movie and the PSA helped her see the impact that film can have in people’s lives. The embed code for the video is screwed up, but you should be able to see it on The Hollywood Reporter site. She talks about Speak starting at about the 3:40 mark. She was so, so young when she made the movie, but her talent was undeniable. It’s been fun to watch her develop as an actress. (Though when the press hounds her, I get really defensive and want to start yelling at people!)

Along with writing like crazy, I’m getting ready for my trip to Arizona at the end of the month, where I’ll be speaking at the Arizona English Teacher’s Association Conference.

I’m also trying to pull together the Common Core Standards that can be met by using Chains and Forge in the English or Social Studies classroom. Do any of you have any experience with this?

That’s all for now. Time to dig out a sweatshirt and get ready for a bonfire tonight.