For this activity I chose to write an article for Incite magazine’s Energise Enthuse, Inspire column. This column provides an opportunity for students and new graduates to write and reflect and have those writings published in a national professional magazine.
When I thought about the topic of censorship it seemed most natural to write some kind of reflective article although I did toy with the idea of reviewing a website or participating in a blog or forum about this issue. I discovered a great US site called Kidspeak (http://www.kidspeakonline.org/) supporting the First Amendment rights to “Free Speech” which provided a forum for kids to speak out about infringements on their rights to free speech. Sadly the website looks not to have been updated since sometime in 2005. This may be due to Brigham’s ice-cream changing hands, as Brigham’s appears to have been the original funding behind this Not for Profit venture.
Censorship is a big topic and there is a lot of research out there. So much so that I struggled to come up with a theme small enough for a magazine article. In the end I went with my own personal experiences and reflections as this seems to fit in best with the nature of the EEI column and I tried to balance interest with information.
In the process of researching and thinking about this article I learned a lot about censorship in terms of books. I also found out that though much has been published on the recent US situation for books for young people, less information is available on what is happening here in Australia. In 1993, ALIA/Thorpe published Brought to book: censorship and school libraries in Australia by CL Williams & K Dillon.
The Looking Glass published a special edition on censorship in 2008, however the articles here were reflective rather than research based. It is still hard to know what is happening on the ground. Most recently the big censorship topic in Australia seems to be Internet censorship and given Australia’s perennial fascination with new technology this perhaps rightly so. Only today I heard of a friend’s shock at discovering her twelve year old daughter was being “groomed” online. Incidents like this highlight the divide between those who would censor and those who would emphasise that education is what is needed.
In terms of youngsters’ responding to censorship there is some evidence to suggest that blogs and other social networking platforms are providing fora for speaking out against censorship (Hildebrand, 2013). I think there is definitely some scope for Inside a dog or other teen book networks to provide spaces to discuss censorship and support youngsters who want to speak out against it.
I also learnt that it is a good idea for library staff and teachers to prepare to face book challenges. Knowing how to respond in these situations can really help to prevent the situation escalating and books from being banned (Jenkins, 2011).
I need to familiarise myself with our collection development policy!
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. (© 2001). Kidspeak Retrieved April 15, 2013, from http://www.kidspeakonline.org/
Hildebrand, P. (2013, May 20, 2013). Young-adult censorship. Retrieved from http://whatsnextthereadersgotoblog.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/young-adult-censorship.html
Jenkins, C. (2011). Censorship. In S. Wolf, K. Coats, P. A. Enciso & C. Jenkins (Eds.), Handbook of research on children’s and young adult literature. New York, NY.: Routledge.