Monday, January 10, 2011

Re-post: WAKE is being challenged at Oliver Middle School in Broken Arrow, OK

Please note: this is not a new post. I am re-posting this at the top of my blog because apparently every student in the US is doing a paper about this right now. This is ALL THE INFO I HAVE. Please do not bombard me, my assistant, or my agent with lists of questions to answer for your research paper. Thank you. I will not be answering anyone specifically--I'm working on some pretty strict deadlines and besides...I can't do your homework for you. Thanks for understanding!

FIRST POSTED January 10, 2011.

A parent would like to have WAKE removed from the school because she objects to adult language and feels that WAKE promotes drug use and sexual misconduct.

I believe WAKE shows teens and tweens the dangers and the consequences of drugs in a real setting. Kids are SMART. A mention of drugs does not equal promotion of drug use -- that assertion is absurd. As for the language...anyone who has spent time in middle and high schools knows how kids talk. Authenticity in books important.

The sexual misconduct thing -- I don't understand. There is no sex in WAKE. There are non-graphic sexual dreams which are typical for anyone in puberty or older. Kids deserve to know they are not the only ones having sexual dreams...and that it's okay. Acknowledging reality does not promote sexual misconduct.

But writing a story about a girl whose mother is an alcoholic and whose father is non-existent does bring in a lot of email -- from kids as young as ten who say things like "thank you for writing about Janie. My family is similar. Now I don't feel so alone." I am so sad that this parent wishes to take away the chance for a Broken Arrow middle schooler to feel comforted by the fact that they are not alone.

The complainant felt that reading the book would result in underage use of substances and premature sexual behavior.

I disagree wholeheartedly and I hate that this person is not giving kids any credit for being logical. Knowledge is power. Sheltering kids from things that happen to teens and tweens in real life is NOT doing them any favors. I say it again: kids are smart. They know the difference between somebody saying "Drugs are good for you, try them!" and a scene where students are doing drugs and are then sent to jail. Why do kids understand this when so many parents do not?

I believe that the first meeting regarding banning WAKE from the school is tomorrow (Tuesday). I've provided a letter of response, but I'm sure the principal would like to hear from others who have opinions on the topic of free speech and censorship, as well as specific comments about WAKE. If you feel so inclined as to write a letter in support of WAKE, and maybe sharing some of the benefits you received from reading it and why you think it's important to have books like WAKE available for students, I found the principal's email on the school's website.

Please be polite and professional. I am very thankful for your support.

The school district website can be found here: http://www.baschools.org/ (The link for Oliver M.S. can be reached by clicking on "School Sites" on the left menu.)

29 comments:

Jess Huch said...

I had a parent also challenge my inclusion of Wake in my classroom library. I was told they weren't going to return it to me unless I agreed to take it off my shelves. I had to hand the issue over to my principal.

Not all books are for all kids. I agree that Wake is one of those books. I have had a number of boys (many more than girls) that love the entire series. I wonder if the parents have read the book or just the flap-it does allude to sex in the description. The parents that I dealt with had not read the entire book, just the flap.

ladystorm said...

WOW, I read Wake and though I am one who never really likes foul language in anything I read I still didn't think it was that bad. I do know from working with a lot of teens that that is exactly how they talk.

I also don't understand the 'sexual content' remark as you said there is nothing bad in the book. Also like you said mentioned the word drugs does not mean a kid is going to go out and buy some.
(if that was the case then we better ban most of the tv shows and movies because wow the drug promoting that goes on there!) :)

Some people really do try and take censorship to far, though I really don't believe in banning books (if a kid wants to read it he can just go to a bookstore if his library doesn't have it). I really think parents need to pick their battles a little bit more wisely.

Its just plain stupid!

TypeATeacher said...

If anything this book makes you NEVER want to drink or use drugs. Wow. I imagine this parent hasn't actually READ any of the books. Trust me, I've read several teen/young adult fiction and this is one of the best series out there for promoting responsibility and adult actions...not the other way around. This series in no way promotes the use of drugs and since when did a teenager read a book about drugs and go, 'hey, I think I'll go get high?' Typically readers aren't the kids using drugs...they're busy reading! ha!
Tell the parents in Broken Arrow, OK they're just pushing their kids to read secretly and not trust their parents' judgment.

Elena Solodow said...

Sending an email now.

Jess Huch said...

I should also let you know that I read all 3 books and enjoyed the fast-paced action, moral debates, and interesting twists that readers crave.

Amy Kathleen Ryan said...

I'm always baffled by parents who, when they judge a book is too advanced for their child, then try to ensure that NO CHILD will read it. Some kids live very sheltered lives in good families, where they receive lots of love and attention, and are not tempted to act out in ways that can harm them. But there are plenty of kids out there whose families are less than supportive, and they find themselves alone in making decisions about dug use, or sex. Is there to be NO adult voice guiding them in an honest and frank way? YA novels like WAKE, that represent realistic consequences for these self-destructive behaviors are sometimes the only deterrent to drug use a kid might have in his/her life. It's madness to take it away. And that's what I'll say in my email to the principal, Lisa.

Sabrina. said...

i shall send an E- mail. but did the parent acctually read the book? pr did a kid or someone else tell her about the book?

N.E. Williams said...

Of course I'm in, I will help you out. This parent really doesn't make sense. There are other factors in a teenagers life that will cause them to give into having sex at such a young age.

I know kids can be naive when it comes to influences, but for the most part its the best parenting that will put these teens on a right path.

No amount of rap songs I listened to would make me have sex at such a young age at the time or influence me to do drugs. My mom was a main factor in who I am today. I love myself enough to not be persuaded to be any different.

A Tale of Many Reviews said...

I sent an email in support of WAKE. I really liked the series. I live 30 minutes from this city and Oklahoma is a "conservative" state. However, that does not mean we are all ostriches with our heads in the sand to reality. I am also a former public school teacher and have seen many books try to be banned. I am not a fan of censorship, but I am a fan of raising your child with the ethics you believe in, but having THIS type of conversation at home. If you don't want YOUR child reading it, that's your parental duty. But, do not presume to make that choice for MY child.

I hope the public (not private) school doesn't bow to censorship.

JaevenStar said...

Lisa, i wrote an email to the address you listed. Here is a snippet from said email:
in the years that I have been working with authors, I have yet to ever come across an author who wrote a book with the intention of getting kids hooked on drugs or convincing them to go out and have sex. If anything, in the conversations I have had with authors I hear over and over again how many times a reader has contacted them expressing, usually quite emotionally, how profoundly a book has affected their lives. The fact is, often times authors are writing from their own experiences as teens and the reality is kids go through a myriad of things in their lives and sometimes the only way for them to know they are not alone is to find solace in reading a book and identifying with the characters or situations. I know from experience that this is true.

Hugs
Donna

Lindsay :) said...

I just wanted to let you know that I sent an email in your support. I'm in total disbelief over this! It's mindboggling that they even think your book PROMOTES drug use and sexual misconduct.

I really hope they don't remove this book from their library.

AnnieAnde said...

I just sent my email. Wow. I sincerely doubt the parent actually read the book...

A.S. King said...

Email sent.
Seriously. How absurd these people are.
Sheesh.
Keep us posted.

angela cerrito said...

Sent an email cc'd you on it!

klt1128 said...

Lisa, I sent the e-mail and posted a link to your site on twitter to try and gain you some more support. Best of luck to you, and keep us all updated on what goes down with the school!
-Katelyn

ilse said...

Working on a strongly-worded treatise from one education professional (who is very proud of how many banned books she teaches) to another...

Like reminding him/her of the Supreme Court decision in Board of Education, Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982), which outlines the process that must be undertaken to have a book removed from a school library, and what constitutes a violation of the First Amendment.

My copy of Wake is ragged from the number of students over the years who've borrowed it. They like it -- and none of them have ever made a comment about language, sex, or drugs in the book. Those parts of the book, where they exist at all, are neither out of place nor obtrusive.

proseandkahn said...

Good luck and SPEAK LOUDLY! I read about the challenge to Wake on a blog I follow and want to add my support. I will be posting about the challenge and writing a letter in support. I read Wake over the summer and booktalked it to my eighth graders. Haven't seen my copy since. They just love it.

brenda

violet said...

Yes! I have always believed in 'kids are SMART'. As long as you teach them the right things, I think sometimes, it's better to let them find out the more minor things by themselves. And it's better to have read about drugs (or anything bad, really) than to try out first handedly.

Oh, and while reading Wake, I didn't really find anything that ...disturbing.

KrisT said...

I'm happy to write a letter. Parents, drugs exist! Why not use the context of the book to have an open conversation with your children about drug-use? You cannot just shelter kids from edgy issues on the grounds it makes you uncomfortable.

On the other hand, Lisa, I think it's pretty cool you're finding your way on the banned list. Everyone knows banned books are the best books. Hope it boosts your sales!

Eleni Alexandraki said...

I wrote my own letter about why I hope he supports NOT banning the book. I personally feel that if kids got the chance to read about these things, especially with their parents, they might be able to talk about it more easily with their parents and have a better vocabulary with them. Kid see a lot more than we give them credit for.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, it's a book for teens, and middle schoolers enter that part of life, so the parent shouldn't judge. only some middle schoolers could understand a book like wake, and some couldn't. i read in middle school and there was really only one part that made me squeemish and that was it. besides, middle school and even sometimes fifth grade is where kids start swearing, so they're probably used to hearing it. and lisa is right, there are some kids who can relate to it and it helps them. even though a parent is upset about means they shouls take it off the library shelves, they just shouldn't have th kid reading it if they're that upset about it. don't punish the whole school. (why was the parent even reading the book anyway????)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Seriously, did the parent read a different version of WAKE than I read? A version you didn't write, Lisa? Because I didn't find anything that promoted sex and drug use in my copy.

Anonymous said...

all I can say is, the parent has the story messed up. It promotes NOT to use drugs. And if she's so sure it's affecting kids in a negitive way, she should ask her kid about it instead of assuming things. besides, I bet the kid would say it's stupid or something if she asked and there would be nothing to worry about.

basma aal said...

Can not believe that :/
what happened to freedom of imagination and writing

Anonymous said...

I wish book banners would just wake up (no pun intended) and realize that they are on the wrong side of history. When, when, WHEN have we ever looked back on a moment in history and said, "Oh, thank God those people burned those books. That was such a heroic moment." Um, NEVER. In the history books, the book banners are always the villains, never the heroes.

Lindasy Rosenwald said...

Nice blogging, My review is very good example.
Lindsay Rosenwald http://www.lindsay-rosenwald.net/ Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald is one of the re-known venture capitalists and the hedge fund managers in the world.

Anonymous said...

i am currently doing a research paper for my English class about banned or challenged books the book the i had to read was Wake . i need help on any other resources of other places this book has been challenged.i am using this comments and website on my paper but i need to find other resources anyone know any other schools. ?

Anonymous said...

same here! cant find any other resources !

Lisa McMann said...

This is the only official instance of a challenge that I'm aware of, and all the information I received is in this post. Sorry guys, but I don't know of anything else.

Lisa