The Power Of Speaking Loudly

When I sat down on Sunday morning to write my blog post about the book banning  in Republic, MO, I had no idea what I started.

You – my readers – changed the world this week.

It started when Paul Hankins, an English teacher in Indiana, started a dedicated Twitter feed, #speakloudly, to spread the word about the banning.  The word spread quickly and it became one of the most Tweeted topics of the weekend.

EVERYONE spoke loudly. Thousands of people linked to my post and recommended it on Facebook and on their own blogs. One social media expert said that based on the Facebook recommendations alone, he estimated that 350,000 heard about the banning.

Then Jezebel.com resyndicated by blog. Huffington post wrote about it. Twice. So did Salon.com.

As if all of that weren’t astounding enough, many readers posted their own stories about being silenced, about being sexually assaulted, about speaking up, about being a Christian tired of seeing other Christians invoking the Bible as justification for censorship, and about how Speak changed their lives.

The Reclusive Bibliophile has compiled a list of some of these posts. Want to feel better about the state of the world? Read a couple of them. There is even one for Spanish speakers. And Swedish.

If I said “thank you” every minute for the next hundred years of my life, it would not be enough gratitude for this outpouring of support and for your loud defense of the freedom to read, to think, and to speak up. I will hold that gratitude in my heart forever. And probably burst into tears whenever I meet one of you. (Please bring Kleenex if you’re coming to hear me speak on my next tour.)

(For the record, as all of this has been happening, I’ve been traveling for meetings and a bookseller trade show. Thank goodness for wireless connections!!)

Here is the latest from Republic, MO.

The local newspaper ran an article in which Scroggins, the book banner, claimed he never called the challenged books “pornography.” This, despite the fact that he clearly did in both his editorial and his original complaint to the school board.

The newspaper also ran my editorial, in which I set the record straight about Speak, and Sarah Ockler’s editorial, in which she defended her book, Twenty Boy Summer, and said some very smart things about the freedom to read. AND the editors of the newspaper ran a wonderful editorial encouraging their readers to use this kerfuffle as a teachable moment for their community. I am sending twenty copies of each of the challenged books to the libraries down there.

I feel bad that I have not been able to spend more time advocating for Twenty Boy Summer and Sarah Ockler. Sorry, Sarah!!! So let me do that now. Read Sarah’s blog and send her lots of love and huzzahs for defending our rights. And for writing great books. Sarah is running a contest on her blog. The winners get a Filthy Books Prize Pack, which includes copies of all three challenged books.

Kurt Vonnegut is not in a position to actively blog about this. But this essay will give you a sense of what he might say if he were with us today.

So it goes….

Second Star to the right!

Publisher’s Weekly has also graced FORGE with a star!

“Second in the Seeds of America trilogy, this sequel to the National Book Award finalist Chains is narrated by Curzon, the slave Isabel freed from prison while escaping her own enslavement in 1777 New York City. Curzon immediately explains how he and Isabel lived in New Jersey for a few months, before she ran away with their meager funds in hopes of finding her sister, a quest Curzon refused to support. Months later, Curzon is doing his best to forget Isabel, though the depth of his feelings is made evident in flashbacks of their time together. After Curzon saves the life of Eben, a young rebel soldier, he joins the army and suffers through the winter at Valley Forge; tension mounts when Curzon’s former owner arrives. Anderson includes meticulous details about the lives of soldiers and, with just a few words, brings readers deep inside Curzon’s experience (“My belly voted louder than my wits”). Her masterful storytelling weaves themes of friendship, politics, love, and liberty into a deeply satisfying tale that will leave readers hungry for the final volume.”

 

Sarah, a sixth grade Language Arts teacher (and incredible book slogger) weighs in on the book’s classroom potential and calls it a “MUST READ.”

It’s going to be very hard to get any work done today.

You Can Come to the Best BookFest ever

One of the stops I am most looking forward to on this fall’s book tour takes place in New York City on Saturday, October 30th.

It’s much, much, MUCH more than one silly author excited about her new book.

It is an extravaganza for teachers, librarians, educators and other people who care deeply about books for kids and teens. It’s a bookaganza. A day-long festival with authors, illustrators, editors, children’s literature experts, librarians and reviewers. (And lunch!)

It’s BookFest @Bank Street!!!!

A short list of guests:

Leonard Marcus, author of Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon

Wendell Minor, illustrator of Nibble, Nibble

Diane Muldrow, Editorial Director, Golden Books

Stephen Savage, illustrator of The Fathers are Coming Home

Mac Barnett, author, Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World

Jon Scieszka, author, editor, Guys Read: Funny Business

David Yoo, author, Stop Me If You’re Heard This Once Before

And me! I’ll be talking about FORGE!

Check out the entire, earth-shaking schedule!!

This is how the official website describes it: “BookFest @ Bank Street is an event devoted to the celebration, discovery, and discussion of books for children and teens. This event, designed for adults, features luminaries from the children’s literature community. Authors, illustrators, editors, reviewers, and scholars will take part in panel discussions and breakout sessions.”

Personally, I think the word “bookaganza” should have been used in there.

But here’s the thing. You must pre-register. And the registration deadline is this Friday, September 17th.

Do it now, OK? And spread the word!