Debate rages on about book banning. I believe we can all agree that adults in the United States have the freedom to read whatever they choose to read. Our minds are fully formed at about age 21, according to neuro-science.
X-rated, R-rated, and M-rated movies would not be allowed in public elementary or middle schools because they are considered inappropriate for younger viewers.
If we apply the same standards to literature in school libraries, what is the objection?
But let’s consider what reading material is age appropriate for younger readers. We can measure reading comprehension. Students learn to handle increasingly complex levels of vocabulary and sentence structures as they age.
What of content? Movies have ratings based on the subject matter, vocabulary, levels of violence, and sexual content. Lately, I’ve seen warnings in movies about smoking shown in them.
When my daughter was 13, she spent the night at another girl’s house and watched Psycho. She demanded to use the bathtub instead of the shower for six months. This tells me she was not mentally prepared to handle the level of blood and violence in that movie at that age.
I firmly believe our minds absorb what we feed them. Fear, violence, the glorification of evil in all its forms have an effect on the mind.
I support choosing books to support the age level of the reader. I strongly object to banning books because someone wants to rewrite history or condemn past cultures and civilizations.
It is absurd to demand historical novels portray the values of today’s society. They cannot. They reflect the values and conditions of their time. In fact, public outrage over Wilkie Collin’s 1859 book The Woman in White led to changes in British law to protect women with greater legal rights.
Let us educate young minds and encourage creativity and freedom of thought without burdening kindergartners to decide on their future sex lives or set their identities in cement.
Teach the Golden Rule–to treat one another the way we want to be treated–along with math, science, history, language, social studies, art, and sports.
Leave out the race-shaming, revisionist history, and vogue social agendas. We don’t allow religion in public schools, so how about if we stop forcing opposite value systems on kids?
We are falling behind other nations scholastically. Less indoctrination. More basic education.
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Rare Evening Event for Club
Many thanks to Hostess Lisa Pearce and the Gardenia Garden Club of Winter Haven, Florida for inviting me to talk about my books and my writing process. The club held a rare evening meeting for this event!
I was an active member of the club for twelve years and took a hiatus to fulfill my dream of publishing novels. My Gardenia Garden Club sisters have cheered me on throughout this journey.
Research is the fun part of writing a novel. I have enjoyed learning about weapons, boats, aircraft, police procedures, fraud, self-defense, and more. The ladies asked questions about the process of writing a novel and about the upcoming book in the series.
As I complete the fourth and final book in the Compass Crimes series, the characters have become part of my life. Friends and colleagues have helped me tremendously through encouraging words, slogging through rough drafts, and introducing me to experts in various fields, vocations, and hobbies.
I’ve documented highlights of my research in this blog: Love of Research
Thank you, Gardenia sisters!
Before becoming an author, I was a reader.
Of course, I still read as often as humanly possible, but before publishing my first book, I’d stand in long lines to get authors’ autographs and thank them for writing.
In Hawaii, I shared a cab with screenwriter Jeffrey Arch. Ben Bova helped me locate an artifact for Mars. Laura Lippman taught a week-long workshop that was worth the whole conference. Dave Barry embarrassed me in front of my mother, which made her day. I embarrassed Ridley Pearson when I pointed out his father was in line for an autograph after Pearson gave a keynote speech on humilty.
I had the priviledge of being on a panel discussion at a writer’s conference with Linda Fairstein, whose books inspired the Law & Order SVU series. James W. Hall gave me priceless advice on writing description. David Morrell swapped flying stories with me because, being the consumate researcher, he got his pilot’s license to write a book that featured a pilot.
Steve Berry shared his exhaustive writing process with writers at a conference in Florida. Kristin Higgins is as hilarious in person as the characters in her books.
Each signed book has a story about meeting the author. I have a bookcase of stories.
As an author, I strive to connect with readers on the page and in person.
At a book club in Highlands, North Carolina, I was asked to sign a book for Ann. When I opened the book, it was already signed to Ann. The lady gasped and said she bought the book used and didn’t notice it had already been signed. What were the odds of that?
Readers have shared photos of themselves reading my books at the beach, on a boat, on a plane, at a hunting camp, and at home.
Readers in Japan surprise me. Haven’t done any marketing in Japan. Sales are steady there thanks to someone who spread the word.
Last week a reader from Waynesville, NC wrote to tell me that someone up there was hosting a game of Cow Bingo. She thought I had made up the game in a book. I confess, I stole the idea from living in a rural small town.
Last week a friend told me that she knew a lady who mailed a copy of my book to her niece in New Zealand. It cost her $40 to mail it. I’d have autographed it, if I’d known. Wowza.
Book clubs are the most fun because they ask great questions. Since research is the best part of the writing process, I love to share insider knowledge that didn’t make it into the book. I’m a pilot, so the scenes about flying in South of Justice come from experience.
To all the readers who buy books from newbie authors like me, God bless you! To all the readers who leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, LibraryThing, and social media, you are golden. Thank you for sharing your love of reading with others and for recommending books by lesser-known authors.
You make this lonely process worthwhile!
Have you met your favorite author?
The American Library Association tracks requests to ban books. Sure, I think we can all agree that the Kama Sutra would be inappropriate for a grade-school library even though it could be considered a picture book. But what if your local public library removed all copies of Brave New World, The Color Purple, Twilight, the Bible, and the Harry Potter Series?
WOULD YOU SPEAK UP?
The LA Times reported that in 2017 the Accomack County school district in Virginia considered removing copies of To Kill A Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from their libraries because one parent objected to the use of the N-word in these books. Has this parent been in a school lately? Or listened to rap music? The casual use of the N-word among blacks makes me wonder–who is offended?
Just for the record, I am offended by the word. But then, I was alive when the word was used as an insult and not as a greeting or term of endearment. In the historical stories above, the characters who use the N-word are portrayed as severely uneducated or hateful, so why not use these stories to teach children about why we shouldn’t use it now? Shall we let political correctness or the opinion of one person dictate which classics the rest of us should be allowed to read?
Shall ladies return to wearing corsets and covering our ankles if a small segment of society decided to return to the good old Victorian era dictates of decency? Why not let the tail wag the dog and surrender to every segment of society’s whims and sensibilities?
I am speaking up because even though a book might offend me to the core, I don’t expect the world to kneel to my feelings. I’m a grown up. I can survive being offended. I’m likely to grumble about things from time to time, but I don’t force my will on others or throw a tantrum when the world doesn’t comply with my demands.
My favorite book has elements of the supernatural, erotic poetry, war, natural disasters, political intrigue, romance, adventure, and more. But it’s banned or heavily restricted in these countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, China (People’s Republic), Comoros, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen. Apparently, the Bible threatens the culture or governments of these countries. I can’t recall extremist Christian-led riots, bombings, or other acts of terrorism endangering any governments, but hey, they run their countries their way. Making the Bible forbidden is their loss.
In America, we enjoy the freedom to read whatever we want. If we don’t like a book, we don’t burn it or ban it. We don’t threaten the author and publisher. We just don’t buy it. We use the power of the free market to support the books we enjoy and treasure. We can, of course, post negative reviews or ignore books that offend us. We allow individuals to decide for themselves.
Judge me if you will, but I firmly believe public and private schools need to consider the appropriateness of books in their libraries based on the age of their students. In a time when student suicides are rising, is it smart to offer books that glamorize suicide instead of offering books on how to cope with depression, stress, and trauma? Let’s expand their imagination and breadth of knowledge while they are young without introducing self-destructive ideas. I lost a friend to suicide in fourth grade. We become that with which we fill our minds.
ARE YOU A REBELLIOUS READER?
To celebrate Banned Books Week, I encourage you to look through the list of the top banned or challenged books from 2000 to 2009. The list was compiled by the American Library Association. How many of these books have you read?
What’s your rebel reader score?
1 to 25 books – Streak of rebellion reader
26 to 50 books – Proud rebel reader
51 to 75 books – Rockstar rebel reader
76 to 100 – full-fledged freedom fighter rebel reader
The Top 100 Banned Books:
- Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
- Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
- And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
- Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
- Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
- His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
- ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
- Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
- It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
- Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
- Forever, by Judy Blume
- The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
- Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
- Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
- King and King, by Linda de Haan
- To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
- The Giver, by Lois Lowry
- In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
- Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
- Beloved, by Toni Morrison
- My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
- Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
- The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
- We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
- What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
- Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
- Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
- The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
- Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
- Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
- It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
- Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
- Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
- Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
- Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
- The Fighting Ground, by Avi
- Blubber, by Judy Blume
- Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
- Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
- Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
- The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
- Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
- Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
- The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
- You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
- The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
- Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
- When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
- Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
- Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
- Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
- Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
- The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
- The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
- Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
- The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
- A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
- Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
- Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
- Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
- Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
- Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
- What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
- The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
- Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
- A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
- Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
- The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
- The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
- A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
- Black Boy, by Richard Wright
- Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
- Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
- So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
- Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
- Cut, by Patricia McCormick
- Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
- The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
- Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
- A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
- Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
- The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
- Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
- Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
- Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
- Grendel, by John Gardner
- The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
- I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
- Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
- America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank
Now imagine your life without access to any of these books because someone was offended and didn’t think you should be allowed to read them.
Sixty-five authors of mysteries and crime fiction are celebrating June with a giveaway. Choose any or all of the titles to download for your summer reading.
While all the books are mysteries and crime fiction, you’ll find some have a humorous bent, a few have supernatural elements. Do you prefer detective stories? Amateur sleuths?
Check out the list here: Notorious Crimes — A Mystery & Crime Fiction Giveaway.
When you’re done reading, please be kind and leave a brief review wherever you share reviews, Amazon, Goodreads, or your favorite social media sites. Your review is like a thank-you note to the author.
Oh, and if you like North of the Killing Hand in this giveaway, it is the beginning of a series called the Compass Crimes.
From these images, can you identify the country?
In this ancient country, there was once a potato famine that led to a mass migration. Many of these immigrants came to settle in the United States. They take their beer seriously and they mark sheep with paint.