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Young Adult Novels Called 'Soft Porn': Attack Ignites Storm Of Responses From Publishing Community (POLL)

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An associate professor attacked the reading list of a Missouri public school district this weekend, calling three books "soft pornography." The professor's advocation for censorship ignited a wave of passionate responses on the internet, especially on Twitter, which can be followed with the hashtag #speakloudly.

Missouri State Professor Wesley Scroggins blasted the Republic School district's book list, singling out Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five," Laurie Halse Anderson's "Speak," and Sarah Ockler's "Twenty Boy Summer."

Scroggins wrote:

The material to which children are being exposed in certain classes in Republic Schools is shocking. It is time parents and taxpayers in this school district are informed about this material. [...] In high school English classes, children are required to read and view material that should be classified as soft pornography.

In response, Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of "Speak," wrote:

"The fact that he sees rape as sexually exciting (pornographic) is disturbing, if not horrifying. It gets worse, if that's possible, when he goes on to completely mischaracterize the book."

Anderson continued:

"My fear is that good-hearted people in Scroggins' community will read his piece and believe what he says. And then they will complain to the school board. And then the book will be pulled and then all those kids who might have found truth and support in the book will be denied that. In addition, all the kids who have healthy emotional lives but who hate reading, will miss the chance to enjoy a book that might change their opinion."

Roger Sutton, editor of The Horn Book, responded on his blog by quoting an earlier review of "Speak," in which he defends the novel:

"It's worth repeating that Speak and other 'problem novels' aren't meant to be read as problem-solvers: in real life, a girl in Melinda's situation doesn't need a book; she needs help. Books help, yes, reading helps, but it's not a case of connecting the dots."

The popular kidlit blog, Blue Rose Girls, comprehensively outlined the controversy, pointing to a number of other response pieces, which can be found here.

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Filed by Sammy Perlmutter