Some Miseducation and a bit of Banned Books…

FREADom to Read

Since 1982 librarians, booksellers, publishers, authors, and readers have set aside the last week of September to celebrate the Freedom to Read with Banned Books Week. Banned Book Week celebrates the “value of free and open access to information” (ALA). The American Library Association has a wonderful website with more information at Banned Books Week. There are additional resources available below in “News Articles and Resources”.

  As a Delaware librarian, it seemed fitting to write about The Miseducation of Cameron Post for this weeks’ entry. This one book was the talk of the state for a few weeks here this summer.  Cape Henlopen wasn’t the only school district or library to challenge the title, but it certainly has gained a lot of the attention. In the “News Articles and Resources” section below you will find a letter from author Emily Danforth to the Cape Henlopen school district, and several local and national news articles about the controversy.

Cape Henlopen School District in Sussex County, Delaware (which educates children from the towns of Lewes, Milton, Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach primarily) adapted the Blue Hen Nominee Award list as its summer reading list for the incoming 9th graders. Parents brought the book before the board for the use of inappropriate language. The board removed the book without proper procedure in late June. The board then put the entire list up for vote in July and it was voted 6 -1 to remove the entire list.

Miseducation Cover

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Cameron Post, age twelve, first feels relieved when she is told her parents have been killed in a car accident. Not becausehey dead, but because they will never know she’s kissed a girl – and liked it. With her parent’s death, Cameron’s grandmother and conservative Aunt Ruth move in, and Cameron knows that life will be different. It is easiest in Miles City, Montana to blend in, and Cameron does this we

I’m going to say this LOUD AND CLEAR; the following is MY OPINION ONLY. You have every right to disagree with me. I’m a librarian, and specifically, A YOUTH LIBRARIAN. I am passionate about Young Adult Literature and strongly believe that young adults are old enough to make decisions about what they read and have literature available to them that makes them think and consider other viewpoints.ll until Coley Taylor moves to town. Coley and Cameron forge an unlikely friendship. Ultra-religious Aunt Ruth steps in when the relationship is becoming more intense and sends Cameron away to be “fixed”. Cameron is forced to realize how her parent’s death, friendships and choices affect others.

I read Miseducation because as a Delaware Youth Services Librarian, I needed to. I don’t regret reading the book. But the value that each reader takes away from reading a book is different. For me, it was the religious struggle of each of the characters, each with a different point of view.  For a parent of a homosexual or questioning teen, or the homosexual / questioning teen, it would be vastly different. I did not like the book. Not because of the swearing, alcohol or drug use, or even the homosexual relationships. Not because as a homosexual growing up in Montana the author, Emily Danforth saw a (lessening) gap in the YA literature industry. I didn’t like Emily Danforth’s writing. The pace of the book varied from going excruciatingly slow to moderately well-paced. Cameron’s attitude was whiney, jaded and only rebellious to be attention grabbing – the exact opposite of the blending in that she was attempting to achieve.

The use of inappropriate language, drug and alcohol use, and the discussion and description of homosexual acts is a growing
trend in YA Lit. Parents may not like it, but is a reflection of the young adult culture today. I am not saying that any of this is right or wrong. These are all topics the youth of our nation are struggling with right now. Young adult literature needs to be a reflection of our culture. As Jay Asher says in his Banned Books Week Video, fiction is there to help young adult approach a topic that adults do not want to discuss, but needs to discuss because they are having difficulty with the topic. Adults, be open. Remember, the teens of today are our future

News Articles and Resources

100 Most Frequently Banned / Challenged Books by Decade

ALA Banned Book Week Timeline

Book Riot July 10, 2014

CBLDF Miseducation News Brief

Emily Danforth Huffington Post Letter to CHSD

September 23, 2014

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