Friday, April 1, 2022

Fan Mail

 So, the Tennessee house passed the book banning bill, HB1944, 63-24, and it's on to the Senate where its approval is anticipated. They're moving forward on HB2633, which would allow teachers to refer to their trans students by their gender assigned at birth/dead name, without fear of reprisal.

The fiscal note on HB2633 says that it's almost certainly unconstitutional and if enacted is expected to cost the state of Tennessee over 5 BILLION dollars in federal education funding, but hey, that's the price you pay to enshrine your bigotry into law.

Meanwhile, yesterday I received a letter from a fifth grade student. I'm not going to share one single personal detail about said person, nor am I quoting any part of their letter to me, which I consider private between us. I would not out this kid for the world--I feel such incredible tenderness, love, and concern for them.

They aren't trans, at least not to my knowledge. (As an aside, please note that I've switched to they/them pronouns in an effort to blur this student's identity, and you all fully understood what I wrote. Not that big a deal, is it? Carry on.)

They attempted suicide.

They were writing to tell me how important several of my books are to them, but especially Fighting Words, in which traumatized elder sister Suki, not the POV character, attempts to take her life. 

(I will point out that I deliberately wrote this book very carefully to make it age-appropriate for fifth grade readers. The word "suicide" isn't in the book. It's written to discourage attempts, not encourage them--there are guidelines for that, and I followed them.)

The letter writer wanted me to know that they are getting help. They hoped I would write the court trial scene, alluded to but not shown in the book, but noted gently that they understood if it was too hard for me. And they asked me some personal questions, again reassuring me I didn't have to answer if it was too hard. 

They are in fifth grade. 

I read this letter and I sat in my car outside the post office and I sobbed.

This book, Fighting Words, has been challenged in school libraries. To my knowledge, each time it has been put back on the shelves--but any challenge automatically removes a book from library shelves for a period of time.

This child needed my book, in a way that's impossible for anyone who hasn't been in a similar position to understand. They were not too young. They needed to hear that help is possible, that help can work, that despair never lasts forever but death does, that staying alive and fighting and speaking up is worth however difficult it is to do.

Any parent can remove any book from their own child's hands. But no parent should take away a book from another child. You don't know each child's story. You don't know which books they desperately need.

This is why book banning is heinous. It's why it's a crime. Suicide is the second-highest cause of death in children ages 10-14--behind cancer, birth defects, heart problems, pneumonia, influenza, Covid--a statistic we dropped from the afterword of my book because it's frankly terrifying. 

It terrifies me. It should terrify you. Keep the books on the shelves that explain hard things in age-appropriate ways. Stop being such flaming jerks who don't care if fifth graders live or die.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

 I am in fact tired of being political. I'd like to write something about knitting. Or puppies. But the Tennessee state legislature is at it again, promoting HB0800 on to the next round of consideration, and this is so completely wrong I can't be quiet about it.

If you would, and particularly if you are a resident of Tennessee, please please please email or call your legislators about this. They need to know how you feel. One thing I learned in my trip to Nashville last week is that there's a sort of conservative echo-chamber going on, and the members inside it really do believe they're speaking for most Tennesseans--or, at least, most of the Tennesseans who count.

We don't want to live in a world filled with hate. Do you remember back when the legality of gay marriage was being debated? There were a lot of "slippery slope" arguments about how it would lead to increased crime and depravity and licentiousness.  Seven years later, it's clear that legalizing gay marriage actually led to--surprise!--gay people becoming legally married. That's it. It lead to an increase in the bonds that strengthen society. 

You can't find a single quote in the Bible where Jesus says anything about homosexuality. But Jesus does say, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." (Matt. 7-1)

Here's the letter I sent out today:

Dear Representatives of the House Calendar and Rules Committee,


I write to strongly protest HB0800. Here is the text of the bill:

WHEREAS, Tennessee public schools should focus student attention on academic curricula critical for student success, such as reading, science, and mathematics; and WHEREAS, textbooks and instructional materials and supplemental instructional materials are essential to students receiving a full and complete education; and WHEREAS, textbooks and instructional materials and supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address controversial social issues, such as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) lifestyles are inappropriate; and WHEREAS, the promotion of LGBT issues and lifestyles in public schools offends a significant portion of students, parents, and Tennessee residents with Christian values; and WHEREAS, the promotion of LGBT issues and lifestyles should be subject to the same restrictions and limitations placed on the teaching of religion in public schools; now, therefore, BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE: SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 22, is amended by adding the following as a new section: Notwithstanding § 49-6-2201(h)(9)(B), the commission shall not recommend or list, the state board shall not approve for local adoption or grant a waiver pursuant to § 49-6-2206, and LEAs and public charter schools shall not locally adopt or use in the public schools of this state, textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) issues or lifestyles.

1. "Supplemental materials" means any book in the school library, grades PK-12. This bill would prohibit any mention of LGBT people in any way. This is clearly discriminatory and unconstitutional.
2. That gay and trans people exist is not a controversial social issue.
2.  According to Pew Research center, 70% of all Americans, including 29% of white Evangelical Protestants, supported gay marriage as of 2021. "Christian values" do not necessarily include homophobia.
3. The point highlighted in green is simply ridiculous. Being LGBT is not a religion. 

This bill will stigmatize and marginalize our students who are LGBT or who have LGBT parents. Over 90% of Tennessee LGBT students already report harassment in public schools. 15% of all Tennessee high school students--straight and gay combined--made an actual suicide plan in 2019. We can not afford the toll this bill will take on our students' mental health.

People are born LGBT in the same way they are born left-handed. When my aunt was in public school in the 1950s her first-grade teacher tied her left hand to her desk because "left-handedness was the sign of the devil." Forcing my six-year-old aunt to learn to write with her right hand did not make her right-handed, but it may have contributed to the learning problems that plagued her through elementary school. Now, of course, we see "left-handedness as the sign of the devil" as both ridiculous and wrong.

Please vote no to HB0800.

Kimberly Bradley
Bristol, TN

Saturday, March 5, 2022

On the Corner of MLK Jr. Street and John Lewis Way

 Last Wednesday I spoke at a Criminal Justice subcommittee meeting of the Tennessee house legislature against the book banning bill, HB1944. Seventeen people had registered to speak and submitted their comments 24 hours in advance--11 in support of book banning, 6 against. 

A few random notes: there's clearly a hidden agenda at work here. All of the book banning supporters railed against pornography in the schools, repeatedly calling librarians pedophiles and sex groomers, quoting the Bible, and claiming that everything started to go wrong in public education the moment we actually enforced the Constitution and eliminated Christian prayer in public schools. However, when you look at the books actually challenged by Moms For Liberty in Tennessee schools, most are actually along the lines of "The Story of Ruby Bridges." The only book they actually challenged at elementary level on the grounds of sexual content was "Seahorse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea," a nonfiction picture book about seahorses. Moms For Liberty felt that, because male seahorses carry the fertilized eggs and actually give birth, this opened a gateway to acceptance of transgender people. 

You can't make this shit up.

Also, of the 37 people challenging books in Williamson County elementary schools (that's just south of Nashville, an affluent, predominantly white area), only 14 actually had children enrolled in the schools.

Since all the people testifying for or against the bill were only speaking to the lawmakers present--we couldn't address each other--and since only the lawmakers could ask questions, I wasn't able to say a whole lot of what I might have liked to. Happily, I'll get another chance: I've been invited, along with fellow writer and Vanderbilt faculty member Andrew Maraniss, and Tennessee Association of School Librarians representative Lindsey Kimery, to participate in a live call-in television news show about this bill. It's on Nashville's Channel 5, Thursday, March 10th, from 7-8 Central time. (That's 8-9 EST.)

Enough people were expected that they moved the meeting into the largest hearing room, and even with that perhaps a dozen people had to stand. The discussion of the one bill lasted three hours. One of the most vocal, nearly hysterical, voices in support of book banning was Victoria Jackson. I remember watching her on Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s, and I'd love to know how she journeyed from the cast of SNL to book banning in Tennessee. 

Almost no one wore masks in the crowded space. Covid's finally going away in a lot of the country, but in east Tennessee it's still rampant, so I had my mask on. I would have taken it off when I was speaking, but someone's perfume in the room set my asthma off, and I kept coughing. I used my inhaler, and I kept my mask on, but plenty of the Moms for Liberty gave me side-eye, as though I was deliberately giving them Covid. They didn't put on masks. They just glared. 

Nashville is a five-hour drive from my home in eastern Tennessee, so I'd driven over Tuesday night. I stayed in a hotel quite close to the Capitol that was inexpensive and had rooms, and the reason for that was that it was an absolute dive. Clean enough and safe enough, but phew. But in the morning at the free breakfast buffet all the patrons were wearing suits and nice clothing and were exceptionally well groomed. Guess I wasn't the only person with business at the Capitol.

In the morning I moved my car to the parking garage across from the office building where the hearing was. I went out to the street and waited on the corner for Lindsey Kimery and for author Ruta Sepetys, who were meeting me there so we could walk in together. (If you haven't read Ruta's new book, I Must Betray You, please do so immediately. It's wonderful, and also very relevant given the situation in Ukraine.) I looked around at the lovely spring day, and noticed that I was standing at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Representative John Lewis Way. This pleased me immensely. The subcommittee vote didn't go the way I hoped--7-3 in support of putting the bill before the entire committee, which will happen next Wednesday morning--but I still feel it was a good sign.

I know I've mostly blogged about book banning, and I know it's not as intrinsically interesting a topic as the highjinks my animals are up to (the horses broke into the barn recently and ate $75 worth of horse treats. I'd stocked up because I have to mail-order these ridiculously expensive German horse muffins and I bought enough to get free shipping. And it's outlandish to feed your horse German horse muffins, but it makes my sweet mare practically purr. Though when she complained about not getting a muffin the day after she ate her share of several dozen, I wasn't nearly as sympathetic as she hoped.). However. Book banning is really important. In Tennessee right now, nearly half of our public schoolchildren get free lunch. We know that nationwide 61% of low-income children don't have any age-appropriate books at home. We know there are significant barriers to public libraries for many low-income children, particularly those living in rural areas. School libraries are our children's primary access to books. Increasing access to books is the most important factor in increasing children's academic achievement and consequent success. 

Also? Homophobia and white supremacy have no place in our schools or our society. Given the tenor of the earlier testimonies, I added a line to mine on the fly. It was this: "There are gay and transgender students in Tennessee public schools, and gay and transgender parents. Their existence is not pornographic."

There was a hiss from the room behind me. 

This is what it's about.

If you feel like watching a video of the subcommittee meeting, here's a link.

If you feel like attending the full Criminal Justice meeting where it will be decided whether this bill goes to the entire house, it's next Wednesday at 9am. If you'd like to speak, you need to email emily.hamby@capitol.tn.gov to ask to be put on the agenda, and you need to send her a precis of your remarks by 9am Tuesday.

If you'd like to comment at the call-in show on Thursday, please do.

If you'd like to email members of the Tennessee General Assembly, you can reach everyone through capitol.tn.gov.

Cheers!

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A Tale of Two Days, with Books

 On Monday I decided to give myself a pandemic treat: I went to a swanky grocery store in a neighboring town. It was fun. I love my local Food City, but every now and again want to spend extra money for fancy cheese or exotic produce, or at least something I haven't eaten repeatedly in past few months. We haven't been traveling, we almost never eat out these days, only 3 restaurants deliver to our farm, and while I enjoy cooking I have lately been bored.

I needed to hand in my library books and get fresh ones, and since I was headed to Johnson City, I decided to go to our branch library, Avoca, which was on the way, instead of the downtown library I usually go to. Avoca's tiny but lovely. I don't go there often, since the downtown library is on the way to ALI world headquarters. I sit on one of the boards at the main library, and I'm there every week, and nearly every employee there knows me by sight as Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, one of the two writers in Bristol. (The other is Jennifer Estep: you should look her books up, they're fabulous.) 

So I was anonymously perusing the New Fiction section at Avoca when I heard a man in his 60s say, angrily, "I need to make a complaint about the selections in this library."

As many of you know, I've been on a fulltime rant against censorship lately, so my ears perked up.

The man said, "Where is the new ---?" and he named some popular novelist I immediately forgot.

The librarian said, "Bert, I'm so sorry. I tried like anything to get it in last week, but I couldn't. And now we're getting a new check-out system so I won't have it until the first of March."

The man said, plaintively, "No new books for a month?"

The librarian commiserated, and said, "I've got two I can't wait to read, and no, they won't be in the system until March."

The two then started slanging on James Patterson, while I carefully selected a Nora Roberts novel. Nora Roberts just gave a grant to fund ALI in two West Virginia elementary schools next year, and I am a big fan. Then I walked back to the children's section and they had Fighting Words prominently displayed.

That was Monday. Yesterday was ship-out day at ALI. This is the day, four times a year, when we send our enrolled classes teacher sets of 6 books each. Their students will chose one title from what we send and order it for themselves, to keep. This year we have 186 classes enrolled, from North Carolina to upstate New York, so it's a lot of work. We get extra volunteers in and start early. It turns out our efforts to organize and streamline our processes are paying off: we finished the ship out in a little over 3 hours yesterday, including our lunch break. (Come work ship out day! We'll feed you free lunch.) 

Here's what we shipped out. Third grade: The Bad Guys (graphic novel), Who Was? (biography series, many different subjects), Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, Power Forward, Coraline, and Wish. Fourth grade: Dog Man (graphic novel), Mummies Exposed (nonfiction), The Graveyard Book, Bud Not Buddy, Front Desk, and Aru Shah and the Song of Death. Fifth grade: Brave (graphic novel), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Brown Girl Dreaming, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Amina's Voice, and Hoot. I wish you could have seen how beautiful these books were, stacked in piles, gleaming, bright. 

At the end of the afternoon some of the teachers from local schools came to pick their books up themselves. If they do this, thus sparing us postage costs, they get to pick out some free books from our shelves of books that aren't part of our school program. It was really fun to talk books with the teachers and learn what interests their students. Bright nonfiction is big. Graphic novels, of course. Rick Riordan, Dave Pilkey. 

If kids can get their hands on books that excite them, they'll read them. When they practice reading they get better at it. When they get better at reading they do better in school. They graduate high school, they have more options, they can get better jobs. Books are a way out of poverty.

But they're more than that. Books are a way into imagination. They're fantasy, adventure, space travel. They can take a person far away from their home, put them into other people's experiences, change their lives. 

Or, you know, just teach them a lot of fart jokes. But I'm okay with that, too.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

The People In Your Neighborhood

 Warning: what comes next is a bill introduced to the TN state legislature followed by two emails, one  deeply homophobic and hurtful to many people.

First, Tennessee HB0800/SB1216, introduced into the House by Bruce Griffey and now co-sponsored by Todd Warner and Susan Lynn, introduced into the Senate by Frank Niceley:

As introduced, prohibits the state textbook and instructional materials quality commission from recommending or listing, the state board of education from approving for local adoption or from granting a waiver for, and LEAs and public charter schools from adopting or using textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyles. 

It's worth noting that "supplemental instructional materials" by definition includes every single book in a school's library. Books don't need to be taught to count under this bill, they simply must be inside a school.

Next, an email I sent yesterday to Rep. Griffey and Sen. Niceley:

Dear Representatives Griffey and Warner,

 

As you promote HB0800, which blatantly discriminates against LGBTQIA parents and children in our state, may I remind you of the fiasco of North Carolina's HB2, which was estimated to cost that state 3.76 billion dollars in lost revenue before it was repealed?

 

That would be a disaster for our state, and it would have your names on it.

 

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


Next, the email I received from Griffey in reply, in its entirety: 


In my opinion, and that of the vast majority of Tennesseans, schools are not the place for teaching or indoctrinating children with LGBTQ lifestyles or values.  Our schools are for learning reading, writing, and math.


Apparently, according to Griffey, Tennessee schools are a place for indoctrinating children with homophobia and hatred. But as I read his email I saw how it was wrong in many, many places. (I could start with expecting schools to teach history and science, though that's a trivial point.) That the "vast majority" of Tennesseans think the way Griffey thinks they do is clearly false: a bit of math and Pew Research statistics tells us that in 2019, 47% of Tennesseans polled said they support gay marriage. That's lower than the national average, but it's unlikely to have dropped in the last 3 years and I'd never call 53% of anything a "vast majority."


Then I pondered the phrase "LGBTQ lifestyles and values." I thought of the LGBTQIA (I prefer to write it that way) people I personally know, and what their lifestyles and values are. Some are committed churchgoers. Some are Christian pastors. They go to work, they go to school, they raise their children. Some are athletes. Some are artists. The only difference I consistently note between an LGBTQIA value and lifestyle and an anti-LGBTQIA value and lifestyle is that the LGBTQIA people are far less likely to be prejudiced.


Then I thought about what would make Griffey, a 70-year-old cis het white man, feel so convicted that LGBTQIA lifestyles were all that much different from his, and I realized, he probably thinks he doesn't know any gay or trans people. He only sees media representation--something he can easily "other." Anyone he encounters in his everyday life he assumes must be straight and cis, because if not he'd be able to tell, and he can't.


Here's news to Griffey: according to latest research, non-heterosexual people make up about 6% of the population. In Tennessee, trans people make up about 0.45%. So, say Bristol, the city where I live, has 40,000 people. That's 2400 gay people and 180 trans people. In Bristol, TN.


The Nashville metro area has a population of about 1.9 million. That means 114,000 gay people and 8550 trans people. These are not insignificant numbers. 


I just now got back from running a few errands. I went to the bank, the post office, and the local Food City to pick up prescriptions and breakfast sausage. I nodded hello to some strangers and was helped by a pharmacy tech and a clerk when my prescriptions wouldn't ring correctly. I probably encountered 20 people, all except the pharmacist (hi, Cathy!) unknown to me. How many of them were gay or trans?


I have absolutely no idea. Why not? Because it's none of my business. I'm not entering into an intimate relationship with any of them. I don't need to know their sexuality or gender identity, and I can't tell it by looking at them. Not only do I have no reason to assume they're straight and cis, I have no reason to care either way. I don't want to hear about Senator Frank Niceley's sexual past either. It's none of my business unless it breaks the law.


My husband works in a busy ophthalmology office--about 60 staff, and let's say 500 different patients every week. How many of those 560 people are gay or trans? You could do the math to show that, statistically speaking, there are gay people in the office every day and trans people at least some of the days, but also--it would be none of your business. Sexuality and gender identity aren't part of being a physician, an employee in a medical office, or an ophthalmology patient.


You'd think this would be obvious to everyone, but, it seems, it isn't. Representative Todd Warner hasn't responded to me. Neither has Representative Susan Lynn, though her Wikipedia page shows the following under Political Career, in its entirety: (TW)


In March 2018, she sponsored legislation requiring Tennessee schools to prominently display "In God We Trust".[4]

In 2020, Lynn voted against removal of a bust honoring Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Tennessee State Capitol building.[5]

Lynn proposed an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2016.[6] She called transgender identity a "mental disorder".[6][7]

With Bill Ketron, Lynn sponsored a "no-go zone" bill in February 2015.[8]


I really believe that most Tennesseans are better than this. I know our students deserve better than this. Children need to see themselves and their families reflected in the books they read. A brief mention of a female character's wife in a middle grades novel about a lost dog? That's as important as being sure the books our kids don't only feature white characters and white history. Our schools and books need to represent reality, because our students already do.


Yesterday HB0800 was scheduled to be discussed in the Finance, Ways and Means Committee but was removed from the calendar. If we speak out, we can be sure this loathesome bill never gets put on the floor. You can find out how to contact all these people at Tennessee General Assembly (tn.gov) Please do. The kind barista in the coffee shop you go to every day, the caring doctor who monitors your elderly mother's blood pressure, the cheeky kid who's your child's new best friend--or, possibly, your own child--depend on it.

 


Monday, January 31, 2022

Now It's All Making Sense

 This is going to be short, because I know I don't have my thoughts in order yet. I also know I'm not going to be able to sit down to my novel-writing work unless I write something about this first. So, here we go.

Every writer of books for young people has been aware of the big upsurge in book bannings, country wide. Often the challenges to the books are patently ridiculous--one complained that the jellyfish character in the young reader's graphic novel "Narwhal and Jellie" wasn't described as being a specific gender. 

It was a jellyfish. I'm not entirely sure jellyfish have genders.

(Turns out you can Google that. And the answer is: some do, some don't.)

Anyhow it began to seem obvious to me that there was something behind all this book banning besides your usual racism and homophobia, and it turns out, yes there is.

Most of the "grassroots" organizations carrying the banner for bills like HB1944, the one currently on the floor in Tennessee, are funded by certain ultra-rich ultra-right people, some of who hope to make a bunch of money off federally-funded charter schools.

Here's a link: Who Are Moms for Liberty?: This Week's Book Censorship News, January 28, 2022 (bookriot.com)

Here's another: Unmasking Moms for Liberty | Media Matters for America

Many very wealthy people in this country are using their money to improve society. Some aren't. We know that. 

Charter schools are a whole nother topic--good points and bad. The problem is that the most vulnerable people in our society--low-income kids, kids with learning disabilities, kids in foster care, those with backgrounds of trauma and resultant behavior issues--they're the ones that need strong public schools the most. As Appalachian Literacy Initiative has grown I've learned more and more about what it's like to be a poor kid in a rural area. The local school is the only choice. The school library is the only source of reading material. If we weaken public schools, for any reason, we're harming the people in our society who most need help.


Sunday, January 30, 2022

TN HB1944 Would Ban the Bible and Anne Frank


Dear Tennessee Representatives Who Ignorantly Support HB1944:

I've heard from a few of you who've said, rather patronizingly, that this bill only bans obscene books for children. You seem to have no idea of the incredible can of worms you're about to open, to the certain detriment of Tennessee's children. Many of our public school children, particularly those in rural areas, rely on their school libraries for their only access to books. And these bans are not about what's being taught as curriculum--they are about whether the books can even be shelved on the library. NO ONE is putting pornography on school shelves. No one is taking away any parent's right to say what their child may or may not read. People with agendas will call anything obscene, for nearly any reason. HB1944 promotes censorship in its worst form.

According to the American Library Association, here are 16 of the 100 most banned books of the decade 2010-2019--many thousands more have been challenged but these are in the top. The descriptions are from Amazon. 


 

·  Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey



 

Fourth graders George Beard and Harold Hutchins are a couple of class clowns. The only thing they enjoy more than playing practical jokes is creating their own comic books. And together they've created the greatest superhero in the history of their elementary school: Captain Underpants! His true identity is SO secret, even HE doesn't know who he is!

 Praise for Captain Underpants:

2013 PARENTS' CHOICE AWARD WINNER - PARENTS' CHOICE FOUNDATION

"(One of the) 5 Books That All Children Should Read" - HEALTHY FAMILY MATTERS

"Combines empowerment and empathy with age-appropriate humor and action" - BOOKLIST


"Funniest Book of the Year"  - PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY ("Cuffie" Award Winner)

"Pick of the List" -AMERICAN BOOKSELLER       

 

·  And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell



The heartwarming true story of two penguins who create a nontraditional family is now available in a sturdy board book edition.

At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.

  ·  Drama by Raina Telgemeier

From Raina Telgemeier, the #1 New York Times bestselling, multiple Eisner Award-winning author of Smile and Sisters!

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon over Mississippi, she can't really sing. Instead she's the set designer for the drama department's stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

* "Another dead-on look at the confusing world of middle school." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review* "With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer. Brava!" -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review* "Telgemeier is prodigiously talented at telling cheerful stories with realistic portrayals of middle-school characters." -- Booklist, starred review* "The full-color cartoon-style illustrations are graceful, assured, and, along with the twists and turns of the plot, guarantee an entertaining and enlightening read." -- School Library Journal, starred review

·  Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

#1 USA Today Bestseller

#1 New York Times Bestseller
#1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller
#1 Publishers Weekly Bestseller
New York Times Notable Children’s Book
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
Booklist Editors’ Choice
Kirkus Best Book
Publishers Weekly Best Book
Horn Book Fanfare Book
School Library Journal Best Book

“Whereas Katniss kills with finesse, Collins writes with raw power.” —Time Magazine

“Suspenseful… Collins’ fans, grown-ups included, will race to the end.” —USA Today

“Collins has joined J. K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer as a writer of children’s books that adults are eager to read.” —Bloomberg.com

“At its best the trilogy channels the political passion of 1984, the memorable violence of A Clockwork Orange, the imaginative ambience of The Chronicles of Narnia and the detailed inventiveness of Harry Potter.” —New York Times Book Review

“Perfect pacing and electrifying world-building.” —Booklist, starred review

“Forget Edward and Jacob… Readers will be picking sides—Peeta or Gale?” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Leaves enough questions tantalizingly unanswered for readers to be desperate for the next installment.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced.” —John Green, New York Times Book Review

“Compulsively readable.” —The Horn Book, starred review

“A superb tale.” —Booklist, starred review

“Tense, dramatic, and engrossing.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Readers will wait eagerly to learn more.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

 

·  I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel



The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere

"This is an essential tool for parents and teachers to share with children whether those kids identify as trans or not. I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions. I found it deeply moving in its simplicity and honesty."—Laverne Cox (who plays Sophia in “Orange Is the New Black”)

From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boys' clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz's story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

 

·  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 ·  It's Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris

With more than 1.5 million copies in print, It’s Perfectly Normal has been a trusted resource on sexuality for more than twenty-five years. Rigorously vetted by experts, this is the most ambitiously updated edition yet, featuring to-the-minute information and language accompanied by new and refreshed art.

"It's Perfectly Normal is informative and interesting; reassuring and responsible; warm and charming. I wish every child (and parent) could have a copy." — Penelope Leach, Ph.D., author of YOUR BABY & CHILD

"I recommend [IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL] to parents and children who are coming into adolescence. They will love it." — T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. author of TOUCHPOINTS

"A perfectly wonderful treatment of the always touchy subject of sex education for young people. The book treats the subject seriously and its intended readers respectfully." — Hugh B. Price, president, National Urban League, Inc.

 ·  Bad Kitty (series) by Nick Bruel



From the creator of The New York Times bestseller Boing! comes the riotous story of a cat gone berserk -- four times over an in alphabetical order each time. Kitty is not happy hen she's told that her favorite foods are all gone and all that's left are Asparagus, Beets, Cauliflower, Dill...and 22 other equally unappealing vegetables. So she: Ate my homework, Bit grandma, Clawed the curtains, Damaged the dishes, and so on, through Z. Only when tastier things arrive (An Assortment of Anchovies, Buffalo Burritos, Chicken Cheesecake...) does she Apologize to Grandma.

 ·  Goosebumps (series) by R.L. Stine

Discover the original bone-chilling adventures that made Goosebumps one of the bestselling children's book series of all time!

Lindy names the ventriloquist's dummy she finds Slappy. Slappy is kind of ugly, but he's a lot of fun. Lindy's having a great time learning to make Slappy move and talk. But Kris is jealous of all the attention her sister is getting. It's no fair. Why does Lindy always have all the luck?Kris decides to get a dummy of her own. She'll show Kris. Then weird things begin to happen. Nasty things. Evil things. No way a dummy can be causing all the trouble. Or is there?Now with all-new bonus material revealing Slappy's secrets and more.

 ·  In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Polacco


Marmee, Meema, and the kids are just like any other family on the block. In their beautiful house, they cook dinner together, they laugh together, and they dance together. But some of the other families don?t accept them. They say they are different. How can a family have two moms and no dad? But Marmee and Meema?s house is full of love. And they teach their children that different doesn?t mean wrong. And no matter how many moms or dads they have, they are everything a family is meant to be.

Here is a true Polacco story of a family, living by their own rules, and the strength they gain by the love they feel.

 ·  The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories--particularly A Perfect Day for BananafishUncle Wiggily in ConnecticutThe Laughing Man, and For Esme With Love and Squalor--will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is full of children. The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield.


Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

 ·  The Holy Bible

·  The Giver by Lois Lowry

In Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal–winning classic, twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind his fragile community.


The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

 ·  Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. 


In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

Praise for The Diary of a Young Girl

“A truly remarkable book.”The New York Times

“One of the most moving personal documents to come out of World War II.”The Philadelphia Inquirer

“There may be no better way to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II than to reread The Diary of a Young Girl, a testament to an indestructible nobility of spirit in the face of pure evil.”Chicago Tribune

“The single most compelling personal account of the Holocaust . . . remains astonishing and excruciating.”The New York Times Book Review

 

·  Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle


Draw me a star. And the artist drew a star. It was a good star. Draw me a sun, said the star. And the artist drew a sun. And on the artist draws, bringing the world to life picture by beautiful picture until he is spirited across the night sky by a star that shines on all he has made. In Draw Me a Star, Eric Carle celebrates the imagination in all of us with a beguiling story about a young artist who creates a world of light and possibility.


"A remarkable, quintessentially simple book encompassing Creation, creativity, and the cycle of life within the eternal." —Kirkus Reviews, pointer review

"This book will appeal to readers of all ages. An inspired book in every sense of the word." —School Library Journal

"
A fable about the passage through life and its fullness of possibilities, children will like the cumulative effects of the tale, the creation of the world through paints, and Carle's collages flaring with rainbow hues." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

 

·  1984 by George Orwell

Written more than 70 years ago, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, his dystopian vision of a government that will do anything to control the narrative is timelier than ever...

• Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read •

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.

Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching...

A startling and haunting novel, 1984 creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions—a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.


So. Do you seriously want to ban Captain Underpants? The Bible? Any book which admits that gay people exist? Anne Frank?

This is wrong. Please withdraw HB1944.