Giving Thanks

Eid Mubarak and Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful for . . . loved ones, my work, amazing colleagues, wonderful companion animals, a vibrant city, a peaceful home, and a warm, soft bed.  Let me always remember lovingly those who do not. 


On credibility

In this article on Locus Magazine’s website, Doctorow (the author of Little Brother) discusses why young adult novels should have sex (or drinking, or drug use, or mild anarchy . . . ).  His argument is simple and elegant: because teens already do these things.   Doctorow posits that if YA fiction only portrays rule-bending, authority-defying, sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll-having behavior as having immediate and dire consequences, then it will lose its credibility.  After all, real life certainly does not work that way.  In fact, a little rebellion can be a good thing, as we test our boundaries, form our personal ethics, and develop our identities.  There is a certain amount of trial and error involved in growing up.

We champion literature because, as C.S.Lewis said, “In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself.”  Experience by proxy allows us to leap the confines of our daily existence.  It allows us to empathize with the stranger, to understand those we may never meet.  It broadens our world-view and opens our mind.  If we’d rather teens learn and “experience” the more unsavory aspects of  adult life through literature than through action, it’s vitally important that that literature honestly reflect reality.  Teens might read what rings false, but they certainly will not connect to it.  Furthermore, a literature devoid of reality, full of schmaltzy cautionary tales may well push our children to dangerous behaviors, as they seek to separate fact from myth through their own experience.  If reading about risky behaviors (which they know exist) will keep kids from engaging in them, or overindulging in them, then by all means - bring on the prose!


Luv Ya Bunches

My first reaction to the news that Scholastic had agreed to sell a “cleaned up” version of Myracle’s Luv Ya Bunches was, “Hmmmm, how cleaned up is it?”  I didn’t honestly think that Myracle would cave to absurd hetero-normative pressures, but I was suddenly unsure.  Thankfully, the gay parents of one character were left in, and the word crap was taken out.  Fair trade?  Myracle thinks so.  The book is still unavailable at elementary schools, however.  And Scholastic has yet to actually admit to any mis-judgement or to apologize for its bigotry.  On a brighter note, Scholastic has “committed to a review process that considers all books equally regardless of their inclusion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) characters and same-sex parents.”  Well, it’s about time.

The books that children read inform their world-view.  The characters and events they encounter help to shape their idea of how the world is and how it should be.  What a shame to actively eliminate an entire population from children’s literature.  To deny the children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren of same-sex couples the experience of seeing their reality reflected back at them is unforgivable.  Equally atrocious is denying this reality to children who know no homosexual people.  Narrowing our children’s horizons creates narrow adults.

When a powerhouse like Scholastic demands that same-sex partners be removed from books aimed at the upper-elementary/preeteen set, they are upholding the hateful position that there is a right and wrong kind of love - a right and wrong kind of family.  Or that homosexuality is fine, but only for older kids, and somehow harmful to children. Memo to Scholastic: Homosexuality =/= pedophilia.  Let’s move into the twenty-first century together.