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September 20, 2010



I had Speak in my collection for a while before reading it. It's a very powerful book and in no way crossed any lines for me. This is insanity.

Jessica Day George

Yes, this man's reaction to SPEAK is appalling. As you say: what is this telling victims of rape? They're nasty, and should be hidden away! This man is horrifying. I also take umbrage at banning SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE. Yes, it's got a lot of profanity, but it is a work of literary art and should be studied.


Amen sister! Thank you!


Never read Speak but I read the Vet series by Lauri when I was younger & LOVED those books.

Totally agree with you Mrs.Hale, that guy is sick!


I teared up a bit reading this. Well said, Shannon.

Jenni Elyse

Thank you for your powerful voice! Even though I haven't read this book yet, I'm still very outraged by the challenge of this book.

I have been sexually assaulted, and like me, anyone who has knows the only way to come off as conqueror is to speak up about their experience and not let the perpetrator go away unscathed. Victims should not feel that they are doing something wrong by speaking up about their attack, or by taking back the control that was ripped from them during their attack. Victims need to be able to talk about what happened to them so that they can heal from their experience. Victims need to know they aren’t the only ones who have experienced the heartache they’re feeling; they need to know they aren’t alone. And, if Speak does or can do that, then it does good and is worth reading.

Je Reve

Mega kudos to my favorite author. Thanks for informing your readers, and for being so awesome while carrying TWO entire babies!


Thanks for posting about this important issue. When I read the article, I was horrified that he could think Speak was in any way titillating. With so many young readers dealing with sexual assault and a variety of other very difficult issues, it's essential that books like Speak stay on library shelves and in schools. It sounds like most of the reactions have been similar to yours, so I'm hopeful that this paper will no longer accept articles from this professor.

Mary-The Sweet Bookshelf

I've read the article and was completely appalled! I can't believe this man. The sad thing is that this man has gotten man other books banned for the community and they obviously listen to what he has to say.

The good thing is the yesterday SPEAK was about #550 on the Barnes and Noble list and today it is #300 and rising. We need to get the word out, and protect this book. We shouldn't let a book that helps victims of rape be kept silent. She should keep the book around to help victims #SpeakLoudly

Amanda Norr

Well, for me there are 3 more books to add to my reading list. I have learned that being open with my kids is what's best. I cannot censor things their whole lives, so learn in school, then we can talk about it at home. This guy is off, the Christian thing to do is be involved parents and teach at home. School doesn't get the final say, I do. I love how reading books can easily start a conversations that might not otherwise get started.

Isabella Kiss

Wow. I've never read that book, but after reading this post and the link to the Christian woman's blog I am just...i don't even know. I think I'm shocked. Rape is a CRIME! There are girls who have had their lives and their self-esteem ruined by that crime. I'm a strong, Bible believing Christian and that guy has his prospective totally off. Rape is a real issue and shouldn't be ignored. Silencing awareness and trying to shut up victims is seriously wrong. That is NOT AT ALL the biblical response. That is not love. Not even close.

Enna Isilee



People are so closed minded these days, and I find it sad that more exciting things aren't going on in their lives so they have to put time and energy into something like banning books.

Melanie H.

Being a librarian myself, I firmly oppose censorship of all kinds. Having said that, I do think censorship provides ONE useful side-effect: people run out and READ the book!

Shannon Morris

I've never read Speak but you better believe I will be reading it very soon. As a school counselor, and a woman with a myriad of life experiences we don't need to get into here, I have incredibly strong feelings on the topic of rape. 1 out of 4, people! How can we possibly educate our girls if we can't talk about or read about or skirt around the issue. Shannon, I'm having contractions for you I'm so upse as well, and I'm not even pregnant!!! Girls, we gotta stick together! We are all in this thing called life together and we have to help each other out! And literature is, in my opinion, a fabulous catalyst in addressing the tough subjects. And the tough subjects scream to be addressed. Gotta do it, Girls!



I love that it makes you contract when you get upset. I am in the second trimester, and my thing is shortness of breath at the moment.

Are you going to post thoughts on The Hunger Games series anywhere?

Debbie (Celes)

Thanks for the post, Shannon. I thought your paragraph about how banning this book promotes the idea that girls who are raped did something wrong was especially pointed. I would hate to think of a teen feeling like she can't tell anyone because someone would blame the rape on her. So sad.

When will people see banning a book doesn't work? And beyond that, that it's wrong?


I take such issue with people's obsessive determination to hide and conceal or ruin what is beautiful or wonderfully important. A few months ago, I let a friend of mine borrow my copy of To Kill A Mockingbird and he returned it unfinished because the language was offensive. I couldn't believe it! Why are people so bent on destroying what is great? I haven't read Speak, but I have had experiences that put me into a position to feel a desire to run 5 miles to avoid punching something if someone is calling a tale about rape pornography. Way to go Shannon. You are so great at standing up for the various but often forgotten plights that we women face today.


How completely asinine. I really hope that people have more sense than the professor who wrote that article and enough gumption to call him on it. That disgusts me...


Speak is a powerful book that had me in tears. This guy is crazy! what were the other two books? I'm in high school and am wondering if I've read them.

Abby Minard

Thank you Shannon, for this post. I live in the same town as this man, and my daughter goes to the same school district. I have written a blog about it as well(http://abbyminard.blogspot.com/2010/09/speakloudly-in-my-own-backyard.html). I am hoping there will be some kind of public hearing to determine the status of the books. I am truly disgusted about this. I feel somewhat responsible for this man, since I am from the same town. I already wrote to the Superintendent about it, but have not heard anything back yet. I am sure he has been swamped by emails.

Abby Minard

Mindy- the other two books are Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. Slaughterhouse has been banned, and Twenty is on review.


100 % AGREE Shannon!!!!!!


Banning books is one way to control society. You have even more power if the populace is uneducated, uninformed and kept in poverty. Reading a wide variety of books leads to thinking and opinions. There are those who think that they are the only ones who should be entitled to opinions and decision-making power. The mere fact that there are those who would allow such censorship on unsubstantiated opinions is more than disconcerting. Thank you for bringing the subject matter to our attention. The more we read the more we learn. Banning books is not a new thing or a good thing-I always wonder how many of those crying "ban" have actually read the books in question.

By the way, isn't tomorrow the start of week 36? Keep hanging in there!


Great blog post, Shannon.


It's so sad that people will believe that Speak is "soft porn" when they hear it and will never read the book. Their loss, as it's a wonderful novel.


Nice post, Shannon. If any literature deserves to be called 'soft core pornography', it's those bestseller Sookie Stackhouse books.

Dr. Sallie N. Cheinsteen

Just curious if Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy crossed some lines for anyone. Personally I thought it was also powerful, although the ending really upset me. I've never heard of Speak, but I think if a book has something about rape in it, revealing the impact it has on women, while showing the base thinking of those who force it on another, well, I don't see how that can't be beneficial.


Thank you so much for supporting this cause! I read about it in LHA's blog, and I was outraged. How can you take away someone's freedom in that way?
This man is so closeminded and ignorant, he's judging a book he obviously has not read.

Teresa Raines

I tweeted all day yesterday about this issue. I agree with you 110%... this man should be in therapy. Thanks for adding to the discussion. Sign me "Shannon & Dean Hale Fan Librarian."


Shannon,You are so eloquent. You must be a writer!

Have you sent your comments in to the place(s) where the guy's article was published? They should publish yours, too.

Praying for you and your wee ones for a safe delivery and recovery.


I work in the Teen Center in our local public library and have a book group on Monday nights. We were just talking about Speak last night and one of the Teens made a very similar comment to you, that whoever sees this as porn needs to get help. This was just on the mention that we will be talking about banned books soon. I am sure we will get more into it on the night we actually talk about banned books! I think I will read them your blog post. I try to mention your books as often as I can to get them to read them!


Eloquently put, Ms Hale! I would have never been able to stand up to this guy without dropping a few choice words as well.

It seems like there isn't anything new I can say, but I think I need to drop my five cents anyway.

Ok, so I'm from a former communist country and I have the dubious honor of being brought up in total religious ignorence, so I can safely say - What is that guy's problem? Why, when someone needs an excuse to be bigoted and narrow-minded and judgemental, they always bring religion up as their shield?

I had never heard of SPEAK until this morning, but I went ahead and read it immediately. No, seriously, I read it in less than five hours, and I can tell easily that this doesn't even fall into the 'PG-13' category in terms of graphic desicriptions. Even without the subject of rape (which is a horrible, horrible offence), the book doesn't dwell on sex. Fanfics written by twelve-year olds have more sensuality than SPEAK.

I read this guy's article, and I immediately noticed something in his opinion - he pulls out a line from the book and puts it out of context to make things worse. That part about the promiscious lives of the cheerleaders was mentioned in passing by the heroine, a random thought, yet he took it out and blew it out of proportion until it looks like this is the "Moral" of the book.

Ms Hale, you once pointed out that if "Book of a Thousand Days" was ever rated, it would look like a terribly smutty and morally offensive story to someone who hasn't read it. In a way, that is exactly what this guy does in his article - he rates an element without taking anything else in consideration. But that's not making a point - in fact, that's a common tactic that hides the lack of arguments in your favor.

Wow... I really ranted off, didn't I? But truly, it is disgusting and offensive, not only because of the way it represents rape, but because this "Associate Professor" obviously manipulates his audiences into believing something stupid.


Pardon... I meant to say the lack of argument in HIS favor.


Thank you Shannon. I love your books and so do my teenage daughters and I think we'll be reading "Speak" next.


Well, I hate to go against what everyone here has been saying, but I think the other side needs to be heard. I am a junior in high school, and I am a Christian, and 'Speak' is one of the books in the 9th grade english curriculum at my school. I do NOT think that book should be there. Not because it's "soft porn," (which is a completely ridiculous assertion) but because most of the students I know aren't ready to handle the sorts of questions and ideas that the book raises. The attitude of the main character towards her school and the behavior of the other students is far outside of the experience of students at my school. Yes, rape happens, and there are consequences to it. But you can't simply have students read that book and expect them to know all about those hard issues and be ready to handle them in real life. It is DEFINTELY PG-13 material, some would even rate it higher. However, I don't think "banning" the book is what should be done. I think it should be kept out of schools because that atmosphere is not conducive to discussion and honest sharing about issues raised in 'Speak.' The book just gets thrown at us and we're expected to nod our heads and say, "oh yes, it's all good"? 'Speak' just confused many people in my english class and left so many unanswered questions and doubts in our minds.
I think 'Speak' should be read only when students are mature enough to handle it and can discuss the topic with their parents, youth pastor, mentor, counselor, or whatever other adult they are close to. The high school english classroom should not be the place where such issues are handled. Parents shouldn't leave sex-ed up to the public school system, they should be actively involved with their kids and increase their children's knowledge as they see fit; when their kids are old enough and mature enough to handle it.

And the other thing is, it isn't right to characterize Scroggins(the writer of the editorial)as someone who is totally insane, horrifying, needs therapy, etc.
I can sort of see his point, even if I disagree. He isn't trying to silence those who have been raped or make them feel as if they are disgusting and insignifigant.
We have our opinions, he has his, let's be respectful if we can.


I'm a middle school teacher, and I think if I knew half the stuff my students were going through in their personal lives, my heart would break. I grew up watching shows like "Full House," where every problem was solved in 30 minutes, and the catharsis was set to a swelling orchestra. But real life isn't like that. One of the best things to happen to literature is the evolution of realistic fiction in novels for young adults. When a person can finally see themselves in a story, it becomes relevant to them. So many people hate reading because they were "forced" to read about people that they couldn't identify with. And Speak? I've never been sexually assaulted, but nevertheless, I can connect to the character and I've the same emotions she has felt, like nobody sees you or nobody listens to you and if just one person would look at you real closely, you would be saved. You would be recovered.

I agree with Abigail: that some teenagers are not emotionally ready for a book like Speak. Who your teacher is and how they present the themes of the book can make a HUGE difference in how students receive it. However, what Scroggins wants is for it to be REMOVED from the system so that there is no choice. At all.

She's also right in saying that sex ed shouldn't be left for the schools to teach, but as a teacher, I feel that parents often want me to make up for what their parental guidance is lacking, and that's not right. And if some parents aren't going to bother educating their children, then who will? Is it better to let these things go unsaid rather than learning it from a public educator?

It's been mentioned before, but I just want to say that most of the material in Shakespeare borders heavily on the 'R' rating. Othello killing his wife? Hamlet psychologically tormenting a girl who eventually commits suicide? Macbeth killing to gain power?

So why is Shakespeare still read so widely? It's because he's probably one of the foremost experts on the condition of human life. We can read him again and again because his dramas are our dramas.

When a student can finally see their dramas in another person's drama, it's a revelation, and one that everyone needs to know: that they are not alone in this world.


this comment is in response to abigail. hi abigail. i'm a junior in college and i just read speak maybe a year ago. i too think that readers need to be mature in order to read "speak." but, you said yourself it's pg thirteen material. i feel that ninth graders should read speak. after i read "speak" i wished i had read it a long time ago. not only is it a well written novel, it also discusses a very important issue in a well crafted way. i've taken some gender classes recently and i never knew before how big of an issue rape is. it is a big issue. people need to be aware of it even if it makes them uncomfortable, even if it makes them unsure. i disagree that a classroom isn't a good place to discuss these issues. a classroom is a great place to discuss hard issues because it's a safe and respectful environment where we can share and listen to others opinions. i know that "speak" is an intimidating and in many ways a hard book. i'm sure it would have been hard to read in 9th grade. but, i'm also sure that that book can make 9th graders think. it's a book that makes us all think and mature, at whatever age.

p.s. it really hurts me that a man would not connect with "speak." if that book is for anyone, it is for men who don't understand what girls/women face and go through in a situation like that.

Valerie Bogert

I live in Missouri and have followed this article for weeks now. I am future librarian and I am appalled about the situation as a whole. This man is entirely wrong on so many levels that it makes my heart sick. The fact that he is challenging a book that perhaps could help a young woman or man come forward and speak up is appalling. His children do not even go to public school, yet he is taking a choice and a freedom away from others. Who is he to make my decisions for me? Ugh.. I could go on and on. He has also challenged books in the other School of Republic Missouri. Does he have nothing better to do??
It makes me wonder which of my states schools are next. But, it also gives me a bit of a laugh.. While he is working to ban the books. The publicity that it is garnering is making many people run out and read them just to see what the fuss is about! Our local Borders cannot keep the books in question stocked and the libraries have extensive waiting lists. So it seems that his plan may have backfired a bit.

And yes there are some students that may not be ready to read the story. But, when they are, I find it sad that they will not have that choice.


That's like saying The Lovely Bones is sexual! It's so horrible and sad, but rape is NOT sex! It is violence and control and evil, evil, evil.

I wish I could just slap some people.

Princess Luna

How Rude!!!!The dude should read it agian before insulting it!!!!!HUMP!!!!!


Wow… I'm in college now but I read Speak in 10th grade and enjoyed it tremendously, mostly because of how beautifully written it was. It opened my eyes to the enormity of this issue, and while I have never experienced what the girl does, I related so much to her. Everything she says about high school was so perfectly true, and so far from exciting in the reason for being under fire. It’s sad that people are trying to cover this topic, when it so desperately needs to be brought to light. This book is amazing.
And Congratulations:D


Wow! Great thinnkig! JK

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