PABBIS - Parents Against Bad Books In Schools

18 July 2005

How Far Is Too Far? (CCBC Topic)

The ALA facilitates CCBC-Net Topics, a listserv chatroom on literary issues. PABBIS was interested in their topic for the second half of June 2005 - "How Far Is Too Far?" in young adult books. The ALA considers young adults to be 12 - 18 years old. Ironically the topic for the first half of the month was "The Books of Francesca Lia Block." The introduction for the topic of this author waxed prose making her books sound like a fine wine - "..courageous explorations of both form and content... fresh and lyrical langague to illuminate the inner lives and inter-connectedness of characters who are at once archetypes and achingly real." Block is a well known author of controversial young adult books, many of which are in the PABBIS Excerpts Section.

A college professor noted that he required students in his Literature for Adolescents class to read Weetzie Bat, by Block, in order to generate a "very charged discussion." He noted that 2/3rds of the students hated both Weetzie Bat and The Chocolate War.

The professor also said that he would use the writings of "Gabriel Garcia Marquez and other authors who blend magic and realism to tell their stories, since many of my students are turned off by the appearance of the genie (and the casual sex, gay issues, etc.)."

The introduction to the CCBC Topic "How Far Is Too Far?" noted "the boundaries of what we find acceptable are never static--they ... are ever-shifting when it comes to society as a whole." PABBIS - Looking at the ever increasing avalanche of smut in "literature" deemed "Best Books" for young adults by the ALA, it is obvious they are shifting quickly to the worse.

Early in the discussion introduction of the "How Far Is Too Far?" topic it was said that the topic question was done "with the assumption that there is no correct answer to the topic question." PABBIS - Guess that would be just too judgemental. If there isn't a correct answer to the question than the answer is, by default, that anything-goes-at-any-age. Some of the interesting and revealing discussion follows.

A poster wanted to expand the discussion and said, "Perhaps the discussion.. should be broadened to include the whole perspective of children's literature in general, not only to young adult literature (and I use the term 'literature' jokingly). In the past few years, farts, boogers, and piss have replaced Fantasy, Beauty and Poetry on best-sellers lists. I keep hearing from publishers "But they SELL, hee, hee, hee." YES, they do, but so would crack, pot and heroin 'sell' to many youngsters if they could check it out freely in our public libraries. Orgy rooms with rainbow parties might be a popular Teen Night Event, too. Let's get with it! Let's protest this proliferation of putrid publishing on ALL levels. Keep boobs in bras, penises in jock straps, and bodily functions left to Dr. Ruth."

This poster was told no that the young adult focus was the topic. By the way, the ALA doesn't consider "young adults" (12-18 years old) to be "children." It is easier for them to to push smutty material to 12-year old "young adults" than 12-year old "children." To most parents 12-year olds are not even "older" children.

An author pointed out that they had fought hard to get a dog to poop on a page because they knew kid would find it funny. They said, "I think if pooping, farts, and the like are tastefully done, then they should be welcomed in children's literature!"

A poster said just because "they want to read about poop and sex and drugs, do we give it to them?" and said it " a ploy to SELL books. Simple as that. It's a shame. Our children deserve richness of character, fantasy, STORY. We are selling out. ..We should all, ALL, strive for better." This poster ended by asking, "How are poops and farts ever 'tastefully done.'"

Despite being officially "off-topic" the discussion of "childrens" books content, as opposed to "young adult" book content, continued back and forth for a while on poops and farts. There was no discussion directly of the vulgar language and homosexual advocacy showing up in books for those 11-years old and younger.

A childrens literature specialist/book reviewer/ALA Annual conference guest speaker/etc/etc took the oppotunity to advertise her two day, 1 credit, $890 course on "FINDING DIVERSITY IN EXCELLENT CHILDREN'S LITERATURE (Grades PreK-8) Her course "examines issues of diversity in children's literature and how excellent literature can help children learn about differences such as, ethnicity, race, language, gender, class, economic status, sexual orientation, and ability. Besides identifying and defining the characteristics of a literature of inclusion, topics include sexism in the heritage of European folktales, ...."

A poster said, "I have not yet read RAINBOW PARTY.. about girls performing oral sex on boys.... I will be reading it myself at some point... this book *may* qualify as a slam-bam poorly-written marketing ploy, I don't yet know. Dogs poop on the floor sometimes. Teenagers have sex sometimes. And why shouldn't that be part of literature just as much as anything else?"

A poster said, "My mantra is "Young Adult books in our library are for kids in 7th grade through 12th grade and accordingly may deal with issues, etc., that are not appropriate for younger kids." Kind of an oral warning label. It's kind of galling in a way to be put in the position of doing this since I have a really liberal attitude toward my collection (one of my more recent acquisitions being Chloe Does Yale - I figure there's nothing in it that isn't discussed in most of the advice columns of teen magazines). Just this past week, though, I've had the parents of 10-year-olds take me to task on a magazine, "Sugar," and on a book in which the word "motherf**ker" makes an appearance. Both sets of parents may fill out our "review of materials" form. My frustration is not being able to say outright, "If you don't want your 10-year-old reading this stuff than keep them out of the YA collection!" Another problem - the self-righteous idiots who keep stealing my GLBT collection. I'd like to put a label on each one warning the person not about the content but that I'd be willing to bring "hate crime" charges against them if they even think of stealing my books because they don't agree with a certain lifestyle...." PABBIS - Chloe Does Yale? Exactly whose tax money did they use to buy that book?

The author who made the "tastefully done" poop comment retracted her statement and admitted it can't be entirely tastefully done but was "only thinking of the audience."

A poster said, "Back to the discussion. I, too, feel there is a definite place for YA novels with sex included. I, too, feel that parents should watch what books their children are reading... believe the whole issue that was started is this: how graphic do we need to get? Really? And like it or not, it is a fact that authors are scrambling to write more "edgy" not to "sell copies," but "sell" a manuscript. At all. Edgy (for lack of a better term) sells. But why. I think we've gotten off the track here, and everyone is defensive. Let's rally and get good books into the hands that need them. Of course they will read about sex. Don't give them something so raw, so detailed, so graphic that there isn't anything left FOR adulthood." PABBIS - Full speed ahead on soft-core and hold off on the hard-core stuff for adulthood? And when is adulthood? Isn't a young adult by definition an adult?

A poster said "Kids have been giggling about certain body functions for as long as I can remember and I personally don’t think reading about such things is detrimental... However I do have a problem with YA books that condone: obscenity, profanity, lying, dishonesty, alcohol and drug use, sexual activity outside of marriage, and immoral behavior in general. The key word here is condone. I believe our books influence a young reader’s value systems. Perhaps most YA readers are mature enough to be discerning, but without going into what is now acceptable in MG and PB, I think we would all agree there is a trickle down effect." PABBIS - We certainly agree there is a trickle down effect. We wonder what the definition of "condone" is here? Movie ratings don't use "condone" as a factor in their ratings.

Homosexual book content popped up and a poster wondered if librarians were making books with GLBT content accessible to young adults and if they had made "your spaces welcoming and safe for queer and questioning youth."

A poster said "..there are stories (books, oral, personal, movies, etc...) that, I believe, are poisonous. They exploit, they break spirit. It isn't the topic, the subject matter, that is the difficulty, it is the treatment. I would have no problem with a ya book that graphically described and illustrated sexual acts. I think that both girls and boys would, in general, do well to have this information. Sex should be fun, not shameful. And if one feels empowered about one's sexuality, then one can make informed personal choices, and not feel pressured to leave those choices up to other people/culture." PABBIS - Most people would seriously disagree with what this poster thinks is "poisonous" and what is not.

A San Francisco librarian gave statistics on on percentage of population that are homosexual and said librarians must provide material for them and their children.

A poster noted "it takes wisdom and skill to write a terrific novel for teenagers or adults in which the underpinnings are about sex/sexuality." PABBIS - Guess it depends on what they mean by "terrific." Sales? ALA "Best Book" for Young Adults Award?

A poster compared books with homsexual content or advocacy to books with religious content. PABBIS - Usual ALA type argument. If the books with pedophilia, graphic sex, drugs,violent sex, etc. are not suitable for children than any book with religion is not suitable either.

A poster said "As the manager of a fairly successful bookfair company for many years, I could bring to the elementary schools I served any, and I mean any topic in the YA down to board/picture book categories, from wicka to witchcraft to sex to drugs, whatever. All topics were allowed except Christian-related titles/themes. It was never the indeceny that was censored by the self-appointed guardians. Interesting, isn't it?"

A poster said "This is a subject that I feel strongly about, yet I hesitate to state my opinions on this forum. I do not see homosexual lifestyles in a society as valuable when you consider the long term effects. (this is NOT to say that I dislike people who choose this lifestyle-I would never presume to dictate the choices people make) However I do feel as a member of society and a parent that offering information about homo sexuality as a viable choice to children (especially those at the young end of the span for YA readers) is like presenting calculus to a child in preschool and expecting them to understand it. I think we often overwhelm children with choices they are not mature enough to make. So yes, I would like to know my library does not offer GLBT book, but I try to pick my battles wisely and am content to voice my opinion and leave it at that."

A poster said "I think we're on the verge of a really different kind of gay politics because in another decade or so we'll have a critical mass of straight kids who were raised by gay parents -- not just the other way."

A poster said "As far as GLBT books are concerned, a reference was made about" choice." While this is not the place to debate the issue, many studies show being gay or lesbian has nothing to do with " choice.""

The "poisonous" poster said "What I want kids (and adults) to know is that there is no shame in sexuality or sensuality, and no shame in desire. Thus Pride Parades to me belong to everyone -- they celebrate knowing that who we each are as evolved sexual beings is just fine. And that our choices in whom we shall love and desire, all our lives, are our own. ..think that it is critical that Julia not be shamed for any arousal she feels around her best friend Leanne... and that always, the decision of where to love in what ways is up to Julia. There is no endpoint, no conclusion of one's sexuality -- I see that as a Barbie notion, something "Happily stifled ever after." What is important is the continual process: that Julia partners with someone(s) who is(are) good for her and for whom she is good, and that she feels empowered in her choices all throughout her life. Her sexuality must belong to her. She gets to have the joy and the responsibility of her own choices and her own desires. ..remembered that part of the story included one of the girls losing her virginity." I'm not sure -- and reports from teens indicate that they often don't know either -- what it means to lose one's virginity. Does it mean to be penetrated by or to penetrate the opposite sex? I don't mean to make folks uncomfortable, but these are questions that teens ask; many, for example, don't think that oral sex equals sex. (I remember the same confusion from my own teen years.) So where does that leave teens in same sex relationships? And what is virginity that one can lose it? Growing up, it seemed that virginity as it was (rather vaguely) described was, for girls, being "invaded and spoiled" by a boy and for boys, finding a girl to invade. Or one might say that boys could shed their virginity, while girls lost it -- to boys. ...if penetration is the measure of virginity, I would hope that many girls would "lose" their virginity to themselves, meaning that they learn the measures and comforts of their own bodies first. Many kids will do this in their own space and time long before they are ready to engage in sexual activity with someone else, unless they are shamed away from self-exploration. It is a natural thing to do. I'd like to see that acknowledged in books, certainly by the teen years. ...Thus, I find virginity as it is often described to be a ridiculous and destructive concept. Materials we read in my early college years suggested that definitions of virginity arose out of the fiscal exchange of daughters and dowries. I like the Diana version we learned better: that no girl/woman should ever lose her Virginity, as meaning her ultimate authority over herself and her body... What does this mean about books? It means that I think that sex ought to be present -- not always, nor in every book, but that one's sexuality (a character's sexuality) ought to be a basic part of the equation. It means, for me, that for YA at least, no topic regarding sexuality should be off-limits. It means, in fact, that I would greatly respect an editor or publisher who released and promoted books for young adults that dealt explicitly and lovingly with sex. Kids (and adults) get so much crap thrust at them via billboards, tv, movies, department stores, radio -- so much that destroys an ecstatic concept of being. If half the books in ya publishing dealt explicitly and intelligently with sex, they still wouldn't begin to outweigh what most children in America see and hear every day. So, the more the merrier, the happier we will be. ..We ought to be able to talk and write about these things without reservation or shame. We must learn to talk about these things if we want our children and their children's generations to be whole. PABBIS - Hmmm... to be whole? Very deep thoughts here.

A homosexual author of homosexual adocacy/theme books for young adults replied, "I applaud almost everything you've said -- I wish more people were as sensible and healthy about sex as you. And I find your thoughts about virginity most interesting -- I never really wondered about what virginity meant to GL kids, although I've always assumed that for straight people it did indeed mean penetration. I suspect it still does, especially now that so many kids feel oral sex isn't really sex. As to gay kids -- well, I think virginity means "the first time" there's overtly sexual behavior, i.e. genital in some way, with a partner, which is pretty much what it's always meant. Yes, we must talk about these things, and write about them, too, without reservation or shame, as you said. And I agree that YA books shouldn't judge characters for their "choices" of male or female partners on the basis of their gender alone. As to choice itself, though -- there I disagree. To me, choice is primarily a matter of which specific person within a group one is attracted to. But the fact that one is drawn primarily or exclusively to the opposite sex or to the same sex or equally to both sexes doesn't seem to me to be a choice, or at least not exclusively so. Of course this is enormously complicated, for many people have the potential to be attracted to different genders at different times for different reasons. This would be simpler if we didn't further complicate it by making "rules" and moral statements about it! But homosexuality and hetereosexuality involve far more than sex, and that's perhaps the most important point, and one that needs to continue to be shown in YA books. Uninhibited people can be aroused by either gender, usually -- but the real question I think is that of which gender one can relate to emotionally and on all other levels. There perhaps is the real place at which there's no or little conscious choice. Being gay also has to do with how one sees and relates to the world in general -- just as being straight does -- and for both straights and gays has to do with the mix of whatever is perceived culturally as male and female in each person -- which in us gay folks is often a bit different than it is for straight folk. But it's still more complicated than that, by far. I wonder if we'll ever know the answers to these questions! "

The author continued disagreeing with the "poisonous" poster's comment that Pride Parades belong to everyone. "As to Pride Parades -- well, I can't agree there. It's nice that you think they're for everyone and yes, of course everyone's surely welcome. But please, they're primarily ours, just as a parade put on to honor and celebrate any other minority group is primarily for that group. Do you know how they started? They started as an annual celebrationb of the Stonewall riots, which galvanized the gay rights movement to new and more insistant action. I would be very distressed if Pride became a time for everyone to celebrate their -- what? For us Pride isn't a celebration of sexuality, although that's part of it -- but a small part. Its primarily a time to say "We're here, we matter, we've survived oppression, we're not afraid to be out and strong, and we're not all the bad stuff that's been said about us for eons, we're entitled to equal rights and we're going to keep fighting for them till we have them." Pride's not a big deal subject in books for YAs, but it wouldn't hurt for more kids to know a little about gay history!"

The "poisonous" responded back: "I began this message offlist -- surely, I thought, this is too much information for the public discussion? It is also, for me, uncomfortably personal. But I didn't want to let the "ours" and "not yours" of pride stand unquestioned... and I couldn't figure out how to question it in the abstract. And, I know that other people -- other teens and once-teens feel this way, and so few seem to speak to this. So here goes..." She then talks about how she was attracted to girls, crush on a female counseler, falling in love with a woman one month into college, marching in a GLB parade, etc, etc, etc: "As a woman who married one of the two great loves of her life... who happened to be a man... I am on the outside of lesbian culture. But how truly am I? Were [my husband] lost to me, I'd undoubtedly date women, as well as men, depending on whom I met whom I might love. Most of my close friends are women. On average (but what an odd thing to run stats on!) I find more individual women attractive and interesting than individual men. So what minority/majority is mine? When I was in college, to many in my social sphere, sleeping with a man was betrayal. (This was regardless of your sexuality. I hung out with a rather radical feminist crowd.) But most of the women I knew weren't straight or lesbian, they were bisexual. The bisexual men I knew had it even harder; the tolerance from other gay men was nearly nil. I remember what one gay friend said, that he simply wouldn't call himself bisexual anymore -- not because he wasn't, but because he was in a gay relationship, and being bisexual was such a social struggle. His attractions were as much as women as to men (as I was in a good position to know). Like my friend, I found that my relationship came to define my sexuality... not to me, not to my heart, but to all of my cultures. I married a man, thus, I was straight. End of story. ......... So when I say that Pride Parades are for everybody, it's because no one except yourself knows your heart and your desire. ...How better to make safe the world for gay and lesbian teens than to set everyone free of shame?"

The homosexual young adult book author replied "I'm afraid that what I said about Pride parades must have sounded most unwelcoming, although i did say that everyone's welcome -- and believe me, that's true -- more than welcome, really! But... I'd hate to see Pride parades NOT any longer be GLBT Pride parades, and not specifically celebrate GLBT pride, achievements, struggle, etc. .... All I'm saying is that I would hate to see the message diluted -- and perhaps you didn't intend to suggest that at all...."

A poster said, "The best friend of the undercover woman will be a transgendered woman -- and will bring a subplot to the story. I think books of this type are very important books -- whether or not we understand all the emotions, decisions, etc. That's why these books MUST exist -- so others may understand and find value in all people, all religions, all lifestyles, all cultures."

A poster said "I hope -- and believe -- that most CCBC folks, unlike wkg, realize that, although there is as yet no scientific proof, it is very unlikely that homosexuality is a choice,.."

A poster said "Since mention of these bodily functions always elicit guilty mirth on the part of kids, as sexual references elicit guilty mirth on the part of slightly older kids, could it be that at least some authors and publishers include these references because they are part of daily life and because adults who tend to be prudish about them simply feed into the childish notion that they are somehow BAD? Years ago Judy Blume did great service by demystifying sexual references by treating them as commonplace; could it be that some responsible authors and publishers are trying to do the same for younger age groups?" PABBIS - Most people would seriously disagree with what this poster considers "responsible."

A poster said "..I'd like to give in to the little imp inside me and snidely point out that there are (percentage wise) more people of faith in the US than there are GBLT (something like 97% to 3%-5% -- depending upon which study you use), so it seems strange that there are not MORE books featuring this as a theme in YA literature. "

A poster said "I am often struck by the centuries-old effect of America's Puritan heritage. Whenever we talk about difficult topics, sex is the first agenda item. "We" (I use the term to cover a large percentage of the population) are truly confused on the subject--it's everywhere and it's nowhere. I cannot believe that anyone over the age of 12 has not already been exposed to sexual content far beyond most content in YA books, either in the news or on TV or in magazines or in their discussions with their peers. Therefore, a question: does anybody know what YA lit looks like in a less Puritan culture?" The poster also mentioned a book that features a relationship between cousins and complained that ignored the "real theme" of the book, its "setting: the experience of young people in a war in England, more or less now, that is so much like the war in Iraq we are not allowed to see on TV. For most Americans, war is always somewhere else or a long time ago. I was breathless reading it. Are reporters for the WSJ afraid to mention this content? Furthermore, to piggyback on R's comment, what about topics like the effects of unbridled capitalism and the all-too-present dangers of mixing church and state? Are there many recent YAs that are really exploring the economic, political and corporate culture in which we live? FEED, brilliantly, of course. Several excellent apocalyptic novels. GODLESS: an exploration of religion. PRIVATE PEACEFUL and B FOR BUSTER were both strong, impressive anti-war novels, but were written by a Canadian and an Englishman. Naomi Shihab Nye's new GOING, GOING, looks at corporate takeovers of small businesses. But is it possible that the things we really NEED our kids to be thinking about aren't reflected often enough in their fiction? How far is too far for books that challenge the prevailing political climate of unbridled greed and fearless lies? Can they be published by companies owned by those very corporations? Is it possible that our leaders distract the populace by getting them to worry so much about sexuality rather than what's really going on?" PABBIS - She sure sounds "breathless." And more.

A poster said "..our reactions to violence and sexuality in YA lit may come down to whether we value the innocence of childhood vs. the potential for growth and open-mindedness. PABBIS - Innocence is not an ALA value or position. Rather, to them it seems to be something to be despised.

A poster said ".. a great story.. about her picture book.... some U.S. parent had written to her web site, complaining mightily about the text "I would run around town with my pants falling down" with its paper-cut illustration showing a bare butt. Her husband emailed back, suggesting that, considering the role of the U.S. government and corporations in spreading war, pollution, sweatshops, etc., around the globe, he thought the parent ought really to have many more pressing concerns about her children than viewing a perfectly natural bare bottom."

A poster said "I agree that there are more religious young people in the US than there are GLBT. However, religion is indeed a choice while sexual orientation is not. I don't have a problem with books that portray characters who are religious, because that is a reflection of reality. I do have a problem with books that are intended to be religious "tracts" that are used to attract converts, to create guilt or fear, or to preach. I believe the "teen" versions of Tim LaHaye's books have these exact purposes. Obviously he has a right to free speech the same as everyone else, but I find the use of books as tool of evengelism "going too far." I would also like to see books who show young people who truly evaluate and, in some cases, reject the religion of their parents and communities. I am currently working on a book based on my own experiences in the Christian fundamentalist community when I was a teen and how I eventually escaped the close-minded subculture. It's very difficult to write about and I haven't found the right voice yet, but the thought has crossed my mind that many people will hate me and my book because my experience with fundamentalism and with Christianity in general was negative. The current spread of the type of mindset that I was exposed to as a teen is partially what is making me want to write this book now. As I was involved with churches from New York to Texas to Tenessee and to California, I "learned" that having an open mind was dangerous and would eventually lead me to the gates of hell. I spent years trying to block out "the voice of the devil." I find it frightening that this type of thinking seems to be spreading -- and gaining political clout -- in our country today. I believe that books should expose us to different ideas and lifestyles, and teach us to think for ourselves, not simply help us reinforce what we already believe.

A poster said "..the writers I know tend to ask "how far is too far?" as an outside-in question (as someone here brilliantly put it); if they ask it in the midst of writing a novel, I strongly encourage them to put the question aside until they are ready to revise. Finding the truth of the story from the inside out is so much more important than worrying that a particular scene or a particular word is wrong for the audience. And nearly always, I feel that these writers have *not* gone too far, once I see the completed work." PABBIS - Why are we not surprised by that?

A poster said "I'd like to see this (young people reject the religion of their parents and communities), too--in fact, I'm working on such a book right now. I am disturbed by the pressure in our country these days to be a believer, the sort of pressure that causes politicians of every stripe to tuck God into their speeches, lest they be thought unreligious (which seems increasingly to be equated with unpatriotic). Where is the support for those whose religious stance is "I don't know"? Those who look around at the wonders of the world and think there is probably something very great and mysterious behind them but do not have the least idea what it is and would rather stay with the wonder than choose a belief? This is probably the attitude of most children, I would guess, before they're told what to think."

A poster said "Many children probably do feel that way, but it can happen the other way around, too. Though I was raised in an agnostic household, I converted to Christianity when I was in 8th grade and am still, in my fifties, a proud member of the seldom talked about Religious Left.

A poster said "How far is too far? I get tangled up thinking about it. As a parent I'm scared. As an author I'm even more scared. This past week I picked up three books and I felt like I went over the precipice with all three. Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson Looking for Alaska by John Green and Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Whew Ms. Anderson feels "edgier" than she ever has, and right away Alaska lets us know she's gone all the way, and Sammy and Julianna actually do "it" by page 25--but let me tell you these were ALL good books. The language in Sammy and Julianna made me sit back and sigh. There was just so much to chew on. Would it be a good book without page 25--I guess--but it was all good and the sex was only a fraction of it. I think, like E, I tend to draw the line at gratuity and exploitation--even then for some people that can be a very fluid line. ..By the way at ALA this afternoon I saw an advance galley set out (can't remember the publisher) called TEACH ME. I asked what it was about and the sales person or whoever she was said it was for very mature young adults, age 14 and up, and was about a teacher falling in love with one of her students. With all the stuff I was carrying I didn't feel the need to pick it up."

A poster said "I read Godless--wasn't really godless in my opinion. More about a young man trying to find his place in religion. Even as he invents an alternative religion and develops a following you feel that he is on a journey, navigating the pros and cons of what organized religion is all about."

A poster said "I haven't read the last one, but have read "Prom" and "Alaska" and enjoyed them. I've also read Teach Me, ..and want to comment on it. I feel that a well-done 'edgy' book is good for most teens. Books provide a safe way for kid to explore these topics and think about them in new ways. "Alaska" has an oral-sex scene. The fact is that some, certainly not all, kids are participating in this behavior. I actually loved this scene because the boy and the girl were awkward and fumbly and didn't know how or what to do. I thought that was realistic.. In my day (insert old lady voice) I loved Forever by Judy Blume. I was intensely curious about the first time. ....I enjoyed Teach Me. As a parent, the idea of a student-teacher affair is repugnant (especially when I'd been warned that in this story, the teacher won't be punished). But as soon as I started reading, I was right there with the main character. ...The publishers also were careful to make sure that there were no statutory rape issues involved. (They don't have sex until her 18th birthday.).. Such affairs do happen." PABBIS - A lot "happens."

A poster said "I was just answering the question regarding what I personally find to be offensive in books, which is proselytization (sp). This topic seems to be about "what books do different people find offensive" and "what should be done about it." Well, nothing should be done about it. I don't even think parents should censor their own children’s (especially teens) reading." PABBIS - So teens are children? And teens are young adults too?

A poster said "Recently, I watched the film "Are We There Yet?" with my 9 and 11-year old...I thought it was trash, some swearing and lots of sexual innuendo...but, they loved it!" PABBIS - Maybe they'll like GTA too!

A poster said "Amen to that...My kids are switching to public school next year. After 6 years at a Catholic school, my older child has some serious questions (that I have no answers to) about being indoctrinated into an organized religion in which one MUST follow (and not question) just to fit in. I think these questions need to be asked and the answers carefully considered before a person commits to a faith. I love books that explore faith and spirituality, especially those written for children and teens. This is the time kids question what they've been told. I see it as a sign of intelligence. I too have noticed that when politicians tuck God into their speeches, the applause is frequently louder--the words are hitting folks at an = emotional level, the same device that some advertisers use to sell their products."

A poster said "The first is that I don't think I have every been offended by any work of literature. ...noticed the sex between the cousins and I wasn't sure how I felt. I found it interesting that I seemed to be more concerned because they were cousins then because they were having sex just weeks after meeting. By the end of the book... didn't care that they were cousins anymore, and instead felt they were meant to be together. So I think well written books make you care about the characters or plot so much that societal mores seem irrelevant." PABBIS - Yeah, social mores irrelevant.

A poster says "Today's Sierra Club currents included this quote:

"Since the election of Ronald Reagan, the nation has approached energy policy in the same ambivalent way it has approached sex education: some people think it is indispensable; others think it is none of the government's business."
--Matthew L. Wald in the New York Times

And she adds "It seems to me that writing about teens as politically-personally empowered beings is seen as going too far. There appears to be a prevalent idea that teens can't (or shouldn't) do anything about "it" (social/economic/environmental/racist/misogynist problems) until they are grown up... and I wonder, would a publisher who showed teens breaking these rules be seen as going much too far?" PABBIS - ??????

A young adult book reviewer for an Iowa newspaper said, "Chris Crutcher’s new one, The Sledding Hill, deals with far-right Christian book banning, and the kids get involved to stop it. So many ya books that I read tend to have the characters looking inward, I’ve just realized. ...just read Chris Lynch's new book (out this fall) called Inexcusable. It’s about a possible (probable) date rate from the ACCUSED’S point of view. I haven't heard much buzz about this book yet, but when I mentioned it to various non-writers, they’ve said that there is no “other side” to such an issue and that such a book shouldn’t be written. (That kind of feeling always makes me nervous.) It’s a very well-done book, and it shows a character (the boy) who is in deep denial in all areas of his life (and therefore, not taking responsibility for what he does...and he messes up in lots other ways, too). Notice I said “shows.” It never preaches or feels didactic, a real feat for a book like this. I shouldn’t have to say it, but I will just to be clear: In no way am I condoning rape and Chris (if I may be so bold as to speak for him) isn’t either. I heard him speak and he talked about how he wanted to explore this character, that “no one wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I want to be a monster.’” Interestingly, too, Chris, a Printz-winner and popular with boy readers, has written scores of “gritty” YA novels and sa=ys he thinks the climate for publishing them actually is tightening a bit. (Although no one told him to “tone down” this book.) PABBIS - Date Rape? What's up with that, Chris?

A poster said "I recently read a powerful anti-war novel.. translated from French.. As I read the book, I thought about its timeliness given the war in Irag, the deaths and terrible maiming of many soldiers and the deception of some of our most influential politicians."

A poster said "I devoutly wish the book had been better conceived and written; I found the characterization weak and the writing poor, and actually had to force myself to read it. A wonderful vehicle for discussion and some subtle education was wasted. I am a consumate liberal at a small public library in Delaware and would have been delighted to have included it in our collection had it had any redeeming value. Rainbow Party just wasn't worth the fight (which I kinda delight in!)"

A Ph.D. poster from a University in Colorado said "I apologize for the delay in this post. I've been off campus teaching courses, but have been able to stay abreast with the topics. One topic in particular that has me troubled is the dismissive attitude towards humorous books, with "bathroom humor" receiving the brunt of the rejection. I'll do my best to not write a dissertation on the topic (since I already have) but I would like to bring up a few key points.... PABBIS - Wow! A PhD. specialization in "bathroom humor." That is very humorous.

A head of guidance at in a High School in Pennsylvania poster said, "Every generation has its own way of pushing the envelope... When we were young, listening to rock 'n' roll and wearing pedal-pushers, our parents thought it would be the downfall of young people."

And another poster responded, "I hope someone helps [her] figure out that MUSIC and CLOTHING is a far, far cry from a MOUTH and a PENIS. Not even a noteworthy comparison." PABBIS - Ditto That.

PABBIS - So How Far Is Too Far? Oh, that's right, there is no right answer - anything-goes-at-any-age.


The ALA - Helping Get and Keep Extreme Material In K-12 Schools