This might have been my favorite session of the whole conference: Great Censored Novels. What I found most interesting about this session were the four authors who talked about the censorship of their novels. These authors were Ellen Hopkins, Nancy Garden, Lauren Myracle, and Chris Crutcher.
(From left: Nancy Garden, Ellen Hopkins, Chris Crutcher, and Lauren Myracle)
Here are some of Ellen Hopkins’s books:
And Nancy Garden:
Finally, Chris Crutcher:
Ellen Hopkins discussed how “we all live in rooms of fear” and that because of this fear, we challenge books. She said that “our job is to open that door” and that her job is “to expose the truth to dissipate the darkness” and “challenge the belief that books are evil messengers.” It was sentences like these that made me realize how great of an author she really is. I know that a lot of students were reading her books in my observations of the 8th grade classroom. I appreciated how she did not care that people wanted to ban her books because she is there to help students who are curious about such things as drugs read about drugs instead of try them themselves. I agree that it is better to read about these things than experiment them in real life.
I also really loved Chris Crutcher’s speech. Not only did he start out by saying just the F word, he also said that censorship is “stealing your life,stealing your career, and killing creativity.” He also joked about how people say that “teenage sexuality is an adult issue” by retorting that “adult sexuality is an adult issue.” Though I have never read any of his books, I really enjoyed his conviction and his humor.
I also got the chance to talk to the author of Shine, Lauren Myracle. I received a free lesson plan on how to teach her novel in the classroom by pairing it with To Kill a Mockingbird. The teacher who created the lesson plan also shared with our table that she was told that if she taught this book, she would be fired. So, she find an ally willing to teach the book with her and be on her side. Then, she created a lesson plan and taught the book anyway. I loved how she stuck to her convictions and ended up not getting fired. The one piece of wisdom she shared with us was to find an ally because two people create a more united front.