Monday, November 02, 2009

Not quite the Myracle it seems

While Scholastic has gotten a lot of press these last couple of weeks about censoring its book club selections, this is not new; the company has been cleaning up its club editions ever since dirty words started appearing in children's books. Six Boxes of Books has the best analysis of the controversy I've seen yet.

Props to SLJ for getting this story out in the first place, but I have to note one thing that skeeved me out about the lede in the original article: "Don't expect to see Lauren Myracle's new book Luv Ya Bunches (Abrams/Amulet, 2009) at Scholastic school book fairs this year. It’s been censored—at least for now—due to its language and homosexual content." Calling the presence in a children's book of a couple of lesbian mothers "homosexual content" is gross unless the two of them are totally going at it.


Anonymous said...

good for them. It's common sense that if a word will get a child in trouble in school, it shouldn't be in books either. I doubt any teachers want a student telling them "go to hell"

Anonymous said...

Well, Anon, there's language I use in school and then there's the language I use "out of school," so to speak. I wouldn't want children's reading experiences to be limited to school settings. I wouldn't want them limited by the language appropriate in school settings, either. I'd like to see people respect children's ability to tell the difference between language they can use in school and the kind they can't. I am confident that they know the difference.


IF said...

It's probably just bait your casting, but I'll rise to it just a bit. The logical extension of your argument is that any language not used in polite adult conversation should also not be used in books for adults. Your line of argument is fouled.

Anonymous said...

I went to read 6Boxes's commentary. I really don't like the Scholastic book fairs. In the twelve years since my kids started school I have seen them go from mediocre to worse. They push off the cheapest, cheesiest, tacky, vacuous schlock on an audience that--for once in a YEAR probably--has the money in pocket to buy a book.

There's huge social pressure to give your kid money for the bookfair, so parents who would otherwise never buy a book for their kids, cough up the ten bucks. And what can the kids buy with it? Remainders that have sold nowhere else, overpriced pencils, posters, and TV tie-ins.

At the same time that I hate it, though, I have to say--it makes money. 6Boxes laments that Scholastic has a monopoly on bookfairs, but maybe this is WHY they have a monopoly. They don't ever push the envelope. They keep everything mainstream to a fault. When everyone cries out for a book to be included, then they know it is time to add it to the bookfair, but not before.


The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

As a Canadian who is often baffled by America’s policy on things like censorship particularly when free speech is in the country’s constitution, I’ll say this, it is up to the individual to put up the good fight. Now your rights Americans then make certain it is upheld.

Colleen said...

I agree Roger. The "homosexual content" bit was about the lamest thing ever.

Anonymous said...

Seconded. Is it "sexual content" if a kid has, well, parents? What about all those books about kids with a baby sibling on the way? Does anyone have a problem with those? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

My middle grade novel was considered by Scholastic Book Club-- they wanted me to take out the word "butt," any reference to the girl's period, etc etc. I was mayyybe willing to take out "butt" but come on, getting your period is biology. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Facts of Life. I see nothing controversial in the Facts of Life.