Hence began our life long love affair with literature. You may disagree, but we like to think that relationship has matured over the years and good books and good writing have become such a part of our lives it is impossible to imagine living without them. Plus we still enjoy a good fart joke. We tell you all this by way of setting the context for relaying the pleasure we experienced learning that there are indeed others such as ourselves, even in that oft maligned, laughing stock of a state, Texas.
Each winter, Humble Independent School District, located in a suburb northwest of Houston, Texas, hosts an annual literary festival. The all-day celebration of books, which alternates yearly between a children's literature and a teen lit event, has quickly grown into one of the nation's leading festivals. Last January's "Peace, Love & Books" gala at Creekwood Middle School featured nationally acclaimed authors and illustrators and drew hundreds of children and families, despite the damp Saturday weather.Despite the overall tone of this blog it is stories like this that give us hope, for if love of literature, children and community can exist in Texas, there is a brighter future for us all.
But this school year, there will be no such celebration of books. Not because of budget cuts, and certainly not due to lack of interest. This year's teen lit festival has been canceled because of a string of events that followed the banning last month of bestselling young adult author Ellen Hopkins.Yes, perhaps the good people of Humble are the robins that signal the long winter of America's national psychosis is drawing to a close and the spring...wait...you banned the author? The lady that wrote the book? What? Is she Kenyan? You told this lady your town wasn't big enough for the both of you? Are the police sitting out on the road at the edge of town? Is the sheriff trying to get the shop owners deputized? Have you hired a gunslinger? Is this 1810?
Upon learning that Hopkins was scheduled to speak at this winter's festival, several parents complained to the school board. The superintendent, after consulting his head librarian, instructed the festival's organizers to remove Hopkins from the roster and rescind the invitation.See, here are the two necessary ingredients for this sort of idiocy to be successful: "Several parents" who've made their kids program the Tivo for Jerry Springer so they don't have to be home in the afternoon, and a superintendent whose spine is made of overcooked Ramen noodles.
And the really sad thing is these "several parents" probably didn't even need to maneuver their Hoverounds down to a school board meeting and wave their mostly spelled correctly signs around since when there is no leadership at the school these things always catch parents who actually want their children educated unawares because they make the mistake of assuming that professional educators, who are in charge of the professional education of their children, actually know something about education and children and actually care to put the two together.
Nope. Not even close, and that's why "several parents" can destroy an opportunity for "hundreds of children and families." But that's not even the thing that most makes us wish we'd gone into long distance truck driving. The thing that bothers us the most is that while most of these "hundreds of children and families" would have enjoyed the day and benefited from the event, there may have been just a child or two who would have caught a spark from one of these authors and it would have started a fire in them that would warm them and nurture them for the rest of their lives.
And they wouldn't have had to discover it by writing on bathroom walls like we did.