The Dallas Public Library was definitely the place to be last night. Starting with the reception that preceded his presentation, YA author/rock star John Green was swarmed by loyal readers who were anything but quiet!
In his introduction to John Green, Freedom to Read Foundation, (FTRF) President Kent Oliver shared a general overview of the kinds of cases the organization has been recently involved in; a harmful to minors statute to be applied to the Internet in Ohio, the removal of Vamos a Cuba in Florida, and video game bans in Illinois and Minnesota. FTRF is a legal arm of the American Library Association that John Green thanked several times throughout his presentation for their support to First Amendment Issues.
John shared the controversy at DePew High School in New York when Looking for Alaska was challenged for being inappropriate (well, pornographic were the actual words used) to teach to 11th graders in 2008-2009-even after permission slips were sent home to parents to okay their child reading the book or receiving an alternate one. John created this video, stating, among other things, that he’s not a pornographer. Due to widespread community support the book remained in the curriculum. Probably not a well known fact, John shared that he set out to write Looking for Alaska as Christian fiction.
Some additional points John made throughout his presentation included:
- Librarians and teachers are trained and paid to make decisions on choosing books for their students to read.
- Public education is for the good of the community. What books are being read in the classroom is decided by Librarians and teachers, whom the community put value in, in the first place.
- Teen readers are not going to model their relationships directly after the characters in books.
- Penthouse is not appropriate to teach in schools
Okay, so I did take the last point a bit out of context, but it was a point made during the presentation to show the extreme of content-Looking for Alaska, not even coming close.
John took many questions from the audience, careful not to let too many spoilers said about the Fault in Our Stars, his latest YA book. He urged attendees, particularly teens, to keep reading his books and not be afraid to share why they’re important.
Here’s an excerpt of John Green’s presentation posted by the Freedom to Read Foundation:
. The full video can be found here.