Oct 3, 2010

Austin Teen Book Festival Hangover!

Holy moly, what a day! Yesterday was the #ATxTBF! 15 authors were scheduled to appear with the awesome Ellen Hopkins as the Keynote. (Alexandra Adornetto of Halo had food poisoning) Ellen's speech was A-MA-ZA-ZING. I have seen Ellen speak before, but this time was special. Yesterday, October 2nd, marked the end of Banned Books Week, and Ellen's talk focused on the important topic. Lucky, right!?

Ellen has been "banned" three times. The first time was back in 2009 in Norman, Oklahoma, my home state. She was uninvited from a middle school visit after a parent demanded that Crank and Glass be removed from the shelves because of the content. The superintendent followed suit, and not only did he ban the books, he wouldn't allow Ellen to speak at the middle school or high school. The only saving grace was the librarian who had scheduled the school visit fought side by side with Ellen.

The second time was in Rochester, New York. This time, the librarian did nothing.

The third time will be a little more familiar for you. If you are a YA fan, then you have heard about it. Ellen was "uninvited" to attend the Houston Teen Book Festival in Humble Texas this year. She was told, "... [we] feared for the safety of the students if you were at the festival." In the end 5 out of 7 authors willingly withdrew themselves from the festival. The even was cancelled.

There was a reoccurring theme with these blatant forms of censorship; the complainers and superintendents DID NOT read the books they were so eager to ban. Crazy huh!

Here are some amazing quotes from Ellen herself:

"Librarians are gatekeepers, but are also supposed to champion books."

"I will continue to write bravely, and you will read the same way."

"If you can ban the President, you can ban books." - referring to the Presidential speech for schools

Ellen read a few of her fan letters for the audience. This was done to drive the point home that readers, teens, need these books. She doesn't write for money, for recognition, but because the events of her daughter led her to tell the story of how just a few bad decisions can alter the course of your life. Here are a few that spoke to me:

"Crank saved my life."

"[your books] touched our lives forever"

"When things are bad, I can always count on [your] books."

"...this book gave me the strength I needed..."

Check out Ellen's blog, you won't regret it! We are so lucky to have you champion books and the right to read!

MORE blog posts later that will include a mini-interview with Sophie Jordan!

Happy Reading!