Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Scrotum Controversy!

Whoever thought the NCBLA would be addressing a turmoil about scrotums? That is to say, one scrotum: that of a dog named Roy bitten by a rattlesnake. On the first page of this year's Newbery Award winning book The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, one of the characters talks about his dog and the exact place where the unlucky dog has been bitten- his scrotum!

Apparently this poor dog's scrotum not only has to survive a nasty rattlesnake bite, it must now survive national attention the likes of which the children's book world has not seen since Maurice Sendak's Mickey from In the Night Kitchen- stark naked, with his little penis in full view--cried, "Cock-a-Doodle Doo!" waking up anxious adults all over America.

As the daughter of a surgeon who was raised from birth to use words like bowel movement, urinary tract, vagina, and colon I applaud the use of correct anatomical vocabulary wherever it appears. As an advocate of reading rights for children, as well as the first amendment, I actively work against censorship. As do all the authors and illustrators of National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance: M. T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Susan Cooper, Steven Kellogg, David Macaulay, Patricia MacLachlan, Fredrick McKissack, Patricia McKissack, Gregory Maguire, and Katherine Paterson.

In fact, we feel so strongly about a child's right to read, that together we wrote a statement addressing reading rights.

"The NCBLA believes that every person has the right to read. In a free society, this includes the right to choose what one shall read.

Parents, as the primary educators of their own children, have the responsibility of ensuring that their children learn to read and of guiding them in their selection of reading materials. We recognize that there will be occasions when conscientious parents will find certain books and/or materials inappropriate for their children. We acknowledge the right of parents to restrict materials they deem objectionable, and, in the case of school assignments, to ask for alternate reading for their children, but we believe this right carries with it the obligation to respect the right of other persons to make different choices for their own children and themselves."

The key word here is choice, and choice means that there must be many different kinds of books, fiction and nonfiction, on library shelves, for all kinds of kids with differing interests, needs, and backgrounds.

Those who have tried to remove The Higher Power of Lucky from view have accomplished the opposite.Thousands of kids who might never have given the book a glance are now going to devour it from cover to cover.

The NCBLA supports Susan Patron and congratulates her on her Newbery Award winning book. We stand with all librarians who believe that children and their families should have a multitude of book choices. We also stand with all parents who take care to be involved with their children, helping them to make the book choices that are right for them and their families. We believe all children and their parents have the right to choose. We urge everyone who agrees with our reading rights statement to request that all school and public libraries place The Higher Power of Lucky on their shelves, so that any child who wants to read it is free to do so.

For more information on children's reading rights and banned books, go to this page on the NCBLA website:

For more information concerning challenges to The Higher Power of Lucky go to this article in the New York Times:

Or go to the Publisher's Weekly webstite at:

And read NCBLA vice-president Katherine Paterson's views on censorship at:

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