Written by an anonymous friend who very much wants her message to be passed on, so feel free:
You might or might not have heard by now about the recent brouhaha over Lauren Myracle’s new book *Luv Ya Bunches*. If you haven’t, here’s the story in a nutshell: Myracle wrote a book that features, among other things, a girl with two moms; Scholastic wrote her editor a note asking her to change it to standard hetero parents so they wouldn’t have trouble featuring the title at book fairs; Myracle refused to change it, and (not particularly surprisingly) Scholastic is not offering Luv Ya Bunches at book fairs.
Scholastic says it’s not censorship because there are *lots* of books they don’t offer at book fairs; they pick and choose based on many factors. I’m sure they do select for a number of factors, and also that
potential controversy is one of those factors (I once heard Gordon Korman recount a conversation with his editor who, having just read the first page of Korman’s *Born to Rock*, which features a reference to an a prison cavity search, said matter-of-factly, “So, not a book fair candidate, then.”).
Nonetheless, and regardless of what it's called, as a former book fair chairperson, a librarian, a reader, and the lesbian parent of a girl right in *Luv Ya Bunches*’s target audience, I am spitting mad about this. There’s a petition going out to Scholastic leadership asking it to stop censoring gay-friendly books.
I’d like to try another tack as well. The truth is that overall, this mess is probably (I hope!) going to bring lots of welcome publicity and sales to *Luv Ya Bunches*, so that’s not an issue. The issue is the book’s availability *at book fairs*. Book fairs, like libraries, are where kids get to exercise their autonomy and freedom of choice by picking their own books about the things they’re interested in. Book fairs are one of the places where kids’ horizons get expanded. (I still have the copy of *Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret* that I bought at a book sale in elementary school, and still remember the feeling of revelation I had when reading it.) If this title isn’t available at book fairs, kids like my kid and her friends won’t have the chance to make that choice for themselves. By excluding Luv Ya Bunches from book fairs, Scholastic is putting same-sex parents in the same category as a prison cavity search: something yucky, distasteful, and for mature audiences only.
When I told my daughter yesterday morning about this development (I left out the cavity search analogy, and in fact didn't give my opinions at all), she was shocked and indignant. “They need to WAKE UP!” she said. “Families can be different. NOT everybody has a mom and a dad. It’s just not right!” I couldn’t agree more. I suggested to her what I’m going to suggest to you: that when your school has a Scholastic book fair, you ask for Luv Ya Bunches by name **at the fair**. If you are a school librarian or book fair chairperson, and you have your initial consultation with your book fair rep from Scholastic, ask them to send Luv Ya Bunches in your shipment. If you are a parent or classroom teacher, ask your school librarian and/or book fair chairperson to order it. If you are a book blogger, ask your readers to do the same. And if you aren't any of the above but know someone who is:
pass it on.
And then, if they do manage to order it at the book fair? Buy it.
Look, Scholastic isn’t evil, and I’m sure most of the people involved would tell you that they’re not homophobic themselves. Scholastic is a business, and it’s driven by the market. Its decision-makers are afraid of getting negative publicity and losing book fair sales in conservative communities if Luv Ya Bunches is offered at book fairs. But if there is demand, they want to sell books. If there’s enough demand, regularly, for a title, and they’re licensed to offer it, they’ll stock multiple copies and send it in those huge unwieldy metal carts loaded full of books about vampires and best friends and Bionicles and cute little puppies. Communities that don’t want the book offered can always ask for Scholastic not to send it, or can pull it at book fair setup and hide it (like the Easter books Scholastic inevitably sends to Jewish schools' book fairs).
So, please, ask for *Luv Ya Bunches* at your local Scholastic Book Fair. Let’s help Scholastic wake up to the 21st century.
It never fails to amaze and sadden me when some kind of discrimination and ignorance hits you right in the face. Having teenagers they can't understand why there are issues surrounding gay rights at all. Bodes well for the future.Oh and by the way, we are anything but left-wing liberals. Just your basic Americans who think humanity is the right of all persons who inhabit the Earth.ReplyDelete
I'm confused. You're the lesbian mom ex-librarian? Or the mom of a lesbian? Or you're just making a point?ReplyDelete
Anonymous--Squid posted it on my behalf.ReplyDelete
Squid-- thanks much! Scholastic has issued a statement and are going to include the book in their Spring middle school book fairs. I wish it was elementary school too, but still I think all the tweets and petitions and e-mails made a big difference and raised awareness.
Here's the statement: http://onourmindsatscholastic.blogspot.com/2009/10/news-regarding-lauren-myracles-luv-ya.html
Thanks again for being an ally and a swell friend.