|Another book challenge|
|The Daily Southtown, a division of the Chicago Sun Times, wrote an article
(http://www.starnewspapers.com/oaklawn/news/497331,051pw1.article) recently about my first book Fat Kid Rules the World after a parent in that school district complained about the profanity present in the book. The article gained attention on the CNN.com website as well and the gentleman who e-mailed me this link expected there to be more coverage after a local board meeting where they would discuss whether to pull the book from their shelves.
Obviously, I am against book banning. In my opinion, profanity is something kids are exposed to already and I don’t believe it is used gratuitously in my books, but rather it’s there to paint a realistic portrait of the life of a teen who lives in a particular subculture where profanity is present. If I was writing about a religious community or the world of a very sheltered teen I wouldn’t use it. I believe that the ability to accept cultures different from our own, even when there is a part of them that we might find offensive is an important step towards developing empathy and finding alternatives to violence as a means to squelching view points we disagree with. Fat Kid Rules the World is a book with so many positive messages, about self acceptance, accepting the hard parts of reality, and learning to love ourselves and others despite our grimy, less than perfect selves. It’s about seeing through the facades of perfection and being okay with the reality underneath.
Isn’t the attempt to ban a book with these messages simply an attempt to deny such imperfections exist in the world? To me, it’s the equivalent of saying, “I can not learn to love people who use bad language or have sexual thoughts, therefore I will try to pretend they do not exist.” Is this what we want to teach our children? Or instead might we use this book in the way it’s intended, as a window into another life that, whether alike or different, is just as faulty, beautiful and fragile as our own?
What do YOU think?