Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Back when the story broke about Republic, Missouri resident Wesley Scroggins's attempt to ban three books from Republic schools, I wrote a post for Sarah Ockler's blog which defended my home state. Scroggins isn't representative of Missouri, I insisted. Missouri itself doesn't stand for banning. When I wrote the post, I honestly thought the whole situation was basically over. The school board wouldn't actually ban Ockler's TWENTY BOY SUMMER, or Anderson's SPEAK, or Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. I mean, really...SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE? What decade is this?

Only...they did.

I woke up this morning to a headline in my local paper (THE NEWS-LEADER) indicating that two of Scroggins's targeted titles had been pulled: Vonnegut's and Ockler's.

And I'm completely, totally mortified by the decision. I'm even embarrassed that the headline is on page one of the paper, not shunted to some little paragraph deep inside, hanging its own head in shame.

The truth is, anybody with a book on the shelves can be banned. Anybody. And while "numerous individuals," as superintendent Vern Minor put it, claim to have read the three books in question, I wonder if they've read any other contemporary YAs. I contend that if those individuals were to start reading YA authors whose last names begin with "A" and work their way through the alphabet, the shelves would be empty.

And that's the last place on earth I want to be: a world with empty bookshelves. The slippery-slope is terrifying.

To Sarah, a YA author I so admire, all I can say is this: There are many, many important books out there that have never been banned. But I can't think of a single banned book that is not important.


  1. Wow, I adored that book and don't understand why it would be banned from bookshelves anywhere. This makes me sad.

  2. Amen to everything you said, Holly!

    --Ruth (a fellow Missourian)

  3. Another squeaky wheel gets oiled. >:(

  4. ...And the slippery-slope continues, as Republic schools propose keeping certain movies from being shown in classrooms, as well:


  5. I lost a 17 year old brother in 1968 when I was 15. My classmate was his girlfriend. I wish there had been a book like this for me to read that would help me understand the mixed emotions I felt and am still dealing with today. Parents need to be aware of what their children are reading and welcome discussions about difficult subject matter which is a part of life. Banning any book just makes every young person want to get their hands on it, many who will do it secretively.


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