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.)