Saturday, September 26, 2009

ALA Banned Books Week

Today is the beginning of ALA's Banned Books Week, which runs from September 26th to October 3rd this year.

Their site has links with explanations of how books are challenged as well as lists of frequently challenged books, which includes books such as Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn (2007) and Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia (2002-2003). Here is an interesting chart (scroll down) which shows "Challenges by Reason."

University of Virginia Libraries has an online exhibit titled, Censored: Wielding the Red Pen. One page shows picture books that have been challenged. These included The Amazing Bone by William Steig and Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak. Interestingly, the Bible was one of the first books to be censored and burned--in 1536.

Each individual will have different views of what is appropriate for them and their family. We can express our opinions, but shouldn't impose our views on others. Also, each parent can make choices for their own children.

From what I've seen, kids won't choose to read books if they aren't ready or able to handle the material. Books which cover tough topics and which show how characters deal with issues, allow children to view these problems in a safe environment. Books can be a good discussion lead in, so parents or other adults can discuss things openly and express their views/values, which can actually protect children more than ignoring tough topics.

This map shows book bans and challenges from 2007-2009.
From what I could see, when enlarging the map, the only states without challenges were Vermont, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

The last country I've lived in banned books. Many books and magazines were not allowed into the country, which is the right of that country and within their laws. Pages and lines had been blacked out in some textbooks at my kids' school, though not in books my kids used. There were many times I could not access information online because it was blocked.
Living in such an environment, after being used to greater freedoms, was troubling to me.

I am grateful for the freedom to read books which I want to read.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Translated from English

Foreign book covers are always fun to look at--often I like them better than the American cover.

Here are some photos of a few of my writing friends' books that I took in a couple bookstores in Frankfurt.

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
This was just released here in Germany--The Magic Thief got a special stand on a table full of middle grade books. Hardcover books are always encased in plastic.

Invisible Lives by Anjali Banarjee.
Face out!

Two of the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr. There were stacks of these books.

Climate Change by Shelley Tanaka and Heck Superhero by Martine Leavitt. I had to hunt for these, but they were published here a year or two ago.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How to tell this story?

I'm working on revisions of three very different stories (all in different genres) this week. One great thing about VCFA is it encourages me to explore and try all sorts of writing I might not have tried on my own.

Uma Krishnaswami taught me many things last semester and one thing (of several) that sticks with me is that asking questions is vital to my writing.

I ask myself " What is the best way to tell this story?" when I revise. This question leads me to other questions. Asking questions, even ones that might not be logical on the surface, help me explore the story and learn more about my characters. Questions help me see the story in a different way.

Writing is often a circular path. It involves experimenting, playing with possibilities. The longer I spend with a story, the better I know my characters. Then I can push deeper and learn more about my characters.

There are so many craft elements that effect the way the story will be told. At some point in the revising process I have to think about each choice I made and why I chose to craft that aspect of the story in the way I did.

I am fascinated by the process of writing and revising. I think of it as play. It is fun to play with words and characters and situations.

There are many ways to tell each story. Perhaps there isn't a "best" way to tell a particular story. Each possible approach will create a different effect and in some cases a very different story.

Shelley Tanaka wanted me to do a variety of things as I revised this month. She also wanted me to think about what is perhaps the most important question of all: "What do I love about this story?"