My 10 year old recently took a series of books out from the school library and she couldn't put the first one down. After she was halfway into the second book she mentioned that there was " a lot of bad language" in the book. I told her so long as she was mature enough to not use the language it was okay. Afterwards, I decided to check out some reviews. I had to pour myself a glass of wine as I was reading reviews. Not only was the book replete with f-bombs, inappropriate sexual situations between a student and school teacher, kids getting drunk and naked at a party but it was filled with some of the most vulgar language *I* have ever seen.
Here is an excerpt, but please considered yourself forewarned.
Snow Angel: "... she is such a whore"...."well, she said that margaret.... er... ejaculates".
mad maddie: "WHAT?!!"
Snow Angel: well, actually she said she squirts when she comes and then she was like '$hit, i can't believe i told u'...
I really didn't believe it could be as bad it is. I thought the parents complaining must be the type that want Harry Potter thrown out of school libraries. But there you have it, probably the worst I've found so far, but plenty that is inappropriate for 10, 11, 12 and 13 year old kids. I understand the second book has more vulgar content, but haven't bothered reading it.
I imagined that the school librarian had no idea of the content of the book and when I showed her this and a few other excerpts, she seemed shocked but adamant that students should have access to this book in the school library. Her position is that it sparks an interest in reading for kids who would otherwise not become readers. While I think the book is a complete piece of trash, I am not advocating that it be burned or banned from being published, just that it has no place in the school library. If anything, at least only the high school library. The author herself even claims that the book is written for kids in high school.
Yet the librarian seems unconvinced.
Can anyone here convince me why this book should remain in a library that caters to tweens? I cannot begin to fathom her position on this and consider myself rather permissive when it comes to my kids. Can you imagine any parent wanting their tween to have access to this book? (Again, I am only advocating removal from the school library, not all libraries).
You don't say what the book is but since I'm interested in libraries (I have a master's degree in but I work in a university library) / and kids books I was curious enough to Google the characters names and found the author and this:
"Myracle was honored for being an outspoken champion of kids' right to read and was also recognized by the American Library Association as the most censored author in 2009.
Her New York Times bestselling trilogy—ttyl (2005), ttfn (2006), l8r, g8r (2008, all Abrams), all written in instant messaging format—is listed on ALA's Frequently Challenged Books.
"I love books more than anything," says Myracle. "When you take away a book from a child, you take part of that child away. You take a certain part of their reality away and say it doesn't exist, be it a gay parent or drug addiction."
In October 2009, School Library Journal broke the story about Scholastic's Book Fairs asking Myracle to change the same-sex parents to a heterosexual couple in her popular Luv Ya Bunches (Amulet, 2009). The story led to a national outcry from various groups, including NCAC and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD), which resulted in Scholastic's book fair division changing its position and keeping the parents unchanged. (Note: Scholastic was $10,000 sponsor of the NCAC event.)
Myracle thanked her parents, who were in the audience, and Judy Blume, another frequently-challenged author, for "leading her down the path of corruption."
Blume, who also attended the event, was NCAC's honoree last year for her long-time involvement with NCAC, whose board she has served since 2000. Blume's book Are You There God? It's Me Margaret (Bradbury, 1970), as well as many of her other titles, are often challenged, and she is a well-known champion of free speech."
So clearly you aren't alone in thinking this. A nicely worded letter to the school librarian might be helpful. Ask if they have a policy for challenging book selections. Ask if they have a selection policy listing criteria. Ask if they read reviews before selecting books. You don't say what grades are served by the library. I could see legitimate reasons for having the books moved to the high school library. Unfortunately, "censorship" is such a controversial topic and people with legitimate questions often are lumped in with people who have never actually looked at the book they're complaining about or only want their own opinion to be followed and give those with legitimate questions a bad name. Even in the article above apparently the fact that the book had same sex parents was the overriding reason Scholastic was going to ban it from its middle school book fairs. I'm not sure if that's the same book you're talking about or just another by the same author. But IMHO that's a separate issue.
You have every right, though, to tell your daughter that you don't feel the books are appropriate and to begin with it on that level. And I know I'm not saying anything you don't already know.
The book is TTYL by Lauren Myracle. It appears to be one of the most challenged books out there. But so is Harry Potter....
I don't have any issue with her books, or any books for that matter that might have same sex parents etc.
TTYL is quite controversial and has been removed from several middle school libraries across the country. Surprisingly even after being challenged though, some districts have kept it in their middle school libraries.
I am looking into what the policy is for reviewing library selections but at the same time would really like to see the other side.
Last edited by jordansmom; 03-04-2011 at 03:48 PM.
Reason: Adding information
Well - I feel sick now. My 10yo DD brought this home last year I think? Maybe early this year. I looked at the cover, read some of the back and figured it was fine - especially since it came out of the school library.
I do think our school librarians need to be familiar with the books and need to be aware of what kids are taking out. My grade 3, 8 yo DD came home with "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret". She has other Judy Blume books, like Fudge, so thought this would be fine. I have NO PROBLEM with the book, but don't think the content is appropriate for an 8yo, so I told DD I didn't want her reading it until Grade 5. The librarian never said a word to her when she took it out.
I don't think they can. For one thing in DS' school library, especially now that assistant media specialists were eliminated from the budget, most of the checking out is done by parent volunteers. All the kids are checking out books at one time. No one is looking to see what is being checked out. Also, how does even the media specialist have any idea what is appropriate for each particular child. It really has to be the parents' call. A good library might have separate sections for various grade groupings and suggest kids check out books from that section, but even that is hard to do.
Originally Posted by CDB
I think part of the problem
is that the reviews for this book don't give any indication of the explicit vulgar content in the book.
Here is one review of the book, which is similar to the one put out in school library journal, which recommends the book for grades 8-10.
Editor Review (reviewed on March 1, 2004)
Told entirely in instant messages, this modern epistolary tale prompts both tears and LOL (laughing out loud).
Best buds SnowAngel (Angela), zoegirl (Zoe), and mad maddie (Maddie) IM with one another constantly when not in school. Tenth grade is tough, with obnoxious trendy classmates, unfair parents, and sex. Friends can help each other get through the year, but only if they manage to stay together. Angela flits through a series of rotten boyfriends, Zoe discovers Christianity while becoming disturbingly close to her English teacher, and Maddie befriends the class bad girl. Since cynical Maddie can't cope with Zoe's emerging faith, and trusting Zoe won't see anything wrong in her growing relationship with Mr. H., the trio might not survive. But best friends are always there for each other, and a series of emergencies pushes them further apart and then brings them back together, closer than ever. After a slow start due to the unusual format (a glossary would probably help), this develops into a surprisingly poignant tale of friendship, change, and growth. Perfectly contemporary.
ROTFL. (Fiction. YA)
Here is the review
from school library journal, which in my mind, doesn't give enough information for a librarian or parent to make an informed decision. How is that there is such a disconnect?
From School Library Journal
Grade 8-10-Three high school sophomores, lifelong best friends, are now facing a variety of emotional upsets in their personal and social lives. Angela is boy crazy and emotive, but able to lend support to her friends when they need it. Zoe is the quietest and most self-effacing, considered by some to be a goody two-shoes but in fact headed full speed into a very dangerous relationship. Madigan is the hothead, less certain of how to grow up than she allows anyone, including herself, to see. The entire narrative is composed of the instant messages sent among these three, from September into November, as they each get involved with dating, sort out how to have friendships with others, cope with disasters that range from wardrobe issues to getting drunk, and offer one another advice and defiance. Each character's voice is fully realized and wonderfully realistic in spite of the very limiting scope of the IM device. Page layout mimics a computer screen and each girl IMs in a different font and in her own unique verbal style. (The title is IM jargon for "talk to you later"). Myracle not only sustains all this but also offers readers some meaty-and genuine-issues. Both revealing and innovative, this novel will inspire teens to pass it to their friends and will suggest to nascent writers that experimenting with nonnarrative communication can be a great way to tell a story.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Originally Posted by jordansmom
I'd imagine they didn't know, but now they do and they should lose the books. The whole series.
School (public and private) libraries can and should edit their collections for appropriateness for age and for quality. ESPECIALLY when something like this is brought to their attention.
Frankly the book sounds like total inane trash that fits the worst, absolute worst stereotypes of bubbleheaded, boy crazy girls, in addition to being inappropriate. The subject matter sounds like a horrible written version of an MTV video none of us would ever let our kids watch. For me the tip off is that it is in instant messaging format and then it goes downhill from there really fast.
Another thought.... don't the kids have to check with the school librarian first before checking out a book? Ours do, for reading level...they are limited to books within their ability, which can be grade up or more. But they have to be approved. We have middle schoolers and grade schoolers, so the collection is quite varied.
My goodness, if some oversight like this ever happened and a parent came in and pointed it out, our school would have fallen all over themselves in apologizing and making amends. The librarian would be on the proverbial hot seat.
Good luck. I think I'd tell my DD not all books are created equal....some are total trash and not worth her time.
Well, while it doesn't say there are graphic discussions of sex, the comments about getting drunk should send off some alarm bells at the school library. Afterall, it's not a college library.
Originally Posted by jordansmom
IMO - definitely not age appropriate. Probably should be in a high school library, but not elementary or middle school. I run into the age appropriate thing a lot because I have an 8yr old 2nd grader who reads on about a 6th grade level and things she should be able to read anything on her level. Um... not no, but hell no! I don't have to totally censor very often, but I redirect to other books a lot and sometimes tell her she just needs to wait until she's a bit older.