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Scholastic Books and censorship

Posted by on Oct. 29, 2009 at 1:13 PM
  • 32 Replies

Scholastic Will Luv Ya Bunches, Except if You're a Gay Parent

Scholastic Will Luv Ya Bunches, Except if You're a Gay Parent

Luv Ya Bunches is a children's book about four elementary school girls who don't seem to have much in common, except that they're all named after flowers. Sounds pretty harmless, right? Scholastic have refused to allow the book in their school book fair events. Why? According to the School Library Journal, it's because one of the characters in the book has same-sex parents.

Written by Lauren Myracle, Luv Ya Bunches is the first installment in a four-book series. The author says that the book, which was released October 1, was rejected for inclusion in Scholastic's book fair events for two reasons. They are:

  1. The book contained offensive language.
  2. The book depicted a child with same-sex parents.

The Offensive Language in Luv Ya Bunches
No children's book should contain overtly gratuitous language, that's for sure. So what was the language concerned Scholastic? The School Library Journal lists the following examples:

  • "Geez."
  • "Crap."
  • "Sucks."
  • "God" (as in, "oh my God").

Having graced the top ten list of most challenged authors on more than one occasion
, author Lauren Myracle is no stranger to controversy, but she agreed to make the requested changes to the language, saying that she would comply "with the goal-as always-of making the book as available to as many readers as possible."

However, she would not comply with Scholastic's request to re-write the storyline so that character Milla had a mother and a father instead of two moms.

The Same-Sex Parents Issue in Luv Ya Bunches
Author Lauren Myracle told the School Library Journal:

"A child having same-sex parents is not offensive, in my mind, and shouldn't be 'cleaned up.'... Over 200,000 kids in America are raised by same-sex parents, just like Milla. It's not an issue to clean up or hide away... In my opinion, it's not an 'issue' at all. The issue, as I see it, is that kids benefit hugely from seeing themselves reflected positively in the books they read. It's an extremely empowering and validating experience."


Scholastic remain quietly defiant. Here's what they had to say (emphasis is mine):

"Authors are often given the opportunity to make changes in the books to meet the norms of the various communities that host the fairs," - Kyle Good, a Scholastic spokesperson.


By extension, would Scholastic then say that, if a book featuring gay parents doesn't belong in schools, a child that has two moms doesn't belong in schools either because that child also breaks the "norm"?

Or do the two moms just have to stay at home, out of sight, out of mind? This appears to be the policy that Scholastic have, because a quick search of their website reveals that Luv Ya Bunches is on this month's list of Scholastic Teachers' Picks.

And this isn't the first time that Scholastic have been in hot-water, either. Earlier in the year, 1,262 teachers signed a petition to ask that Scholastic stop pushing children's toys at Scholastic school events, saying that they, as teachers, felt exploited. It does make me wonder, are Scholastic worried that Myracle's book wont sell as much merchandise with the same-sex moms in tow?

Scholastic were stung by a backlash from religious conservatives when they allowed Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series into their in-school collection a few years ago. Are these the kind of "norms" that they are now catering to?

Scholastic have released a short statement on the issue, saying:

Scholastic is offering Luv Ya Bunches in our Book Clubs. We decided we would not offer this title in Fairs. School Library Journal inaccurately stated that we censored the book. We review thousands of books each year and only a limited number can be carried in our channels.


Noticeably, Scholastic do not challenge the School Library Journal's assertions on why they rejected the book for in-school events. Scholastic, it is true, are offering the book on their website and in their Scholastic Book Club catalog. But this is almost worse.

It implies that there's something taboo about Luv Ya Bunches because it features a character with two moms. The truth seems to be that Scholastic are censoring what they show in schools so as not to risk "damaging" their brand. That's spineless, and not only that, it is offensive.

135 comments

by on Oct. 29, 2009 at 1:13 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Goodwoman614
by Satan on Oct. 29, 2009 at 1:14 PM

I found reading some of the comments quite interesting as well.

Thoughts?



"I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit."

                                         

                                                             

mommajen32
by Platinum Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 1:58 PM

 That's interesting. I don't like "God" as in Oh My God ... in a children's book or "Sucks"

Same-sex parent books for kids at a bookfair, well .... I'll have to side with Scholastic b/c it is one of caution and respect for the majority of parents that would like to explain that to their children and not just haphazardly in a book they picked up. I'd feel the same for books that talk about not having a dad, divorce, drugs, any kinda of heavy topic for where we currently are as a society. As same-sex parents become more prevalent and the marriage bill passes, then I can see it. Other than that it's a specialty item. But ... I can see both sides.

Mom of two angels .....Edie & Hope .....angel miniangel mini

Goodwoman614
by Satan on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:11 PM

I'd feel the same for books that talk about not having a dad, divorce, drugs, any kinda of heavy topic for where we currently are as a society.

Wow.  So you'd willingly agree to disenfranchise kids whose lives have been touched by these issues, just so you could continue to live comfortably in your little bubble?  I suggest you do a little research into the percentage of children whose lives have had such an impact from these issues, b/c they are in fact in the majority that you defend as needing to be catered to.



"I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit."

                                         

                                                             

sandeetraveler
by Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:17 PM

Scholastic has made money for years off books that are drawn on poular TV shows which have no real literary value. They have sold books with all kinds of humor some may find offensive such as fart joke books and Captain Underpants.

Now they want to take a stand because a character comes from a home with two female parents.

I'd be boycotting Scholastic if I had a child in school.

mommajen32
by Platinum Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:27 PM


Quoting Goodwoman614:

I'd feel the same for books that talk about not having a dad, divorce, drugs, any kinda of heavy topic for where we currently are as a society.

Wow.  So you'd willingly agree to disenfranchise kids whose lives have been touched by these issues, just so you could continue to live comfortably in your little bubble?  I suggest you do a little research into the percentage of children whose lives have had such an impact from these issues, b/c they are in fact in the majority that you defend as needing to be catered to.

 


As a professional the majority of my career has involved working with homeless children, and set up libraries (with books addressing very special topics: sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, neglect, adjusting to foster families, death of a parent, etc....) in homeless and domestic violence shelters. And most often these books were read WITH A COUNSELOR so that the kids could talk about the concepts. Sensitive subjects do spark things in kids and are best handled if there is an adult there to handle questions, feelings, emotions, etc... 

The question isn't should these books be published or at Borders or Walden's. The question is about the bookfair. No the bookfair is NOT the place for these books. Counselors hand select these sensitive books based on the developmental level of the child. I'm all for access to book about same-sex parents at retail stores where parents are actively involved in the selection, however, at bookfairs, usually there is an element of self-selection by the kids. And elementary students do not have the capacity to determine if the subject matter is developmentally appropriate.

That said there may be a demographic where kids with same-sex parents are highly represented, in that case then yes. If not, then no, at this point it is still a topic for parents to explore with their kids.

Mom of two angels .....Edie & Hope .....angel miniangel mini

JenE4
by Silver Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:28 PM

I have no issues with the book. But, having a background in educational publishing, I know Scholastic is just protecting themselves from potential backlash from parents. They're not going to take the risk that schools won't allow--or parents might boycott--their book fairs and book orders. I've worked for the last eight years in Grades K-6 reading books, and we've debated whether we should publish a family book including a same-sex couple, and we decided that we couldn't take the risk. Texas is THE biggest adoption state (which means, if their state school board decides to buy your program, they buy it for the entire state--the biggest bucks a school publisher can make), so we seriously have to view EVERY move we make with a "What would Texas think?" lens. And, unfortunately, I'd have to think, nope, probably wouldn't fly in Texas, so we have to avoid the subject matter altogether.

Jen
Mom to Emma, 13; Wyatt, 10; and baby Sofia...babies

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rozepyle
by on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:33 PM

its ridiculous to discriminate against any piece of literature at a book fair or in general. if you dont like it or dont want your child reading it then dont buy it! the greatest gift in my opinion is the gift of literature whether it be a dirty sex and drug filled book or a dictionary.

mommajen32
by Platinum Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:42 PM


Quoting rozepyle:

its ridiculous to discriminate against any piece of literature at a book fair or in general. if you dont like it or dont want your child reading it then dont buy it! the greatest gift in my opinion is the gift of literature whether it be a dirty sex and drug filled book or a dictionary.

but book fairs are set up for children to self-select usually without a parent present.

be sure to remember that if a book explaining rape shows up at the next book fair next to the hello kitty stickers .... and let's throw some Sidney Sheldon in there for good measures.

not everything written is good literature.

Mom of two angels .....Edie & Hope .....angel miniangel mini

Goodwoman614
by Satan on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:50 PM

sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, neglect, adjusting to foster families, death of a parent, etc....) in homeless and domestic violence shelters. And most often these books were read WITH A COUNSELOR so that the kids could talk about the concepts. Sensitive subjects do spark things in kids and are best handled if there is an adult there to handle questions, feelings, emotions, etc...

mamjenn, your argument is disingenuous...does not hold water. 

I call bullshit.

Having a girl whose parents just happen to be two moms, where this fact is inconsequential to the story line, made out to be some hot topic that is "sensitive" in nature is b.s. 

Or are you comparing a child who just happens to have same sex parents as comparable to sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence and neglect? 

Clearly you reveal your own bias and your opinion should be taken with this in mind.  I find equating a child's having parents of the same gender with tragic and stressful events such as rape and sexual abuse to be most repugnant.




"I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit."

                                         

                                                             

tericared
by on Oct. 29, 2009 at 3:07 PM


Quoting Goodwoman614:

sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, neglect, adjusting to foster families, death of a parent, etc....) in homeless and domestic violence shelters. And most often these books were read WITH A COUNSELOR so that the kids could talk about the concepts. Sensitive subjects do spark things in kids and are best handled if there is an adult there to handle questions, feelings, emotions, etc...

mamjenn, your argument is disingenuous...does not hold water. 

I call bullshit.

Having a girl whose parents just happen to be two moms, where this fact is inconsequential to the story line, made out to be some hot topic that is "sensitive" in nature is b.s. 

Or are you comparing a child who just happens to have same sex parents as comparable to sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence and neglect? 

Clearly you reveal your own bias and your opinion should be taken with this in mind.  I find equating a child's having parents of the same gender with tragic and stressful events such as rape and sexual abuse to be most repugnant.

 

 



Cant help but call BS too.....

sweet niblets it is a book with a girl who has 2 Moms....are they explaining their bedroom secrets? I doubt it......

 

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