Most-Banned Book Author in America Ellen Hopkins Calls BS on Parents’ ‘Concern’

More than 1,600 different books was banned from schools and public libraries this past school year, as parents and community members around the country continue to harass works that address cultural identity, discrimination, race, homophobia and abuse.

Many pro-book banners emphasize that the material is simply too unsuitable for younger readers. But the authors say those concerns are just excuses – and it’s really about exclusion.

“They act like they care about the kids, but they don’t,” says Ellen HopkinsThe author of Winch, Tips, Murderer, and many other challenging books. “By saying, ‘There can’t be books on LGBTQ content,’ they’re not just saying these kids don’t count. They are saying that they should not exist. “

Hopkins is the most frequently banned writer in the US, according to a new report by US PEN.

The report was released together with Banned Book Week, starting Sunday and organized by groups dedicated to promoting freedom of expression in the United States

It provides detailed information on book bans across the country, revealing that there were more than 2,500 bans across 140 school districts last school year, affecting 1,648 titles by 1,261 different authors. One index in report also shows the positions of each book ban, along with those who challenged the book. Texas banned the most books, followed by Florida and then Pennsylvania. The report, released Monday, illustrates the prevalence of bans that drive local communities.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Hopkins says she’d love to have a constructive dialogue with parents and community members who are hesitant about her books, but they often shy away from the conversation.

Hopkins’ writing career was inspired by her own life. She started writing her first book, Winch, after observing her daughter, who was once the “perfect child”, struggles. The story, written like a poem, details a teenager’s downfall and the choices she’s forced to make between drug use, teenage parenting, prostitution, and drug use. prostitution and homelessness.

“[My daughter] going to church, she was an outspoken child. She had everything to herself,” Hopkins said. “She met a guy and her life, her dream, disappeared at the age of 18… So if I could get a kid off that path, I would. [be] delight.”

In Tipsa novel about human trafficking, Hopkins takes a similar approach.

“I worked with the Las Vegas lieutenant,” she told The Daily Beast. “I was talking to kids on the street in Las Vegas. They are selling children in front of all those big and beautiful casinos. “

Hopkins says it’s better to deal with problems than to ignore them and pretend they don’t exist, as her competitors are trying to do.

“Having to say this wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t read about it, I mean, I don’t even know where the logic is,” she said.

Hopkins helped raise her grandchildren and was inspired to write several novels based on her family’s experiences. She has expanded her work into school presentations, where she shares stories with students in a learning environment.

“I’m not there to hurt the kids. I am there to help them,” she said. “I am there to help them make better choices, better decisions. And that’s my whole point as of writing. “

Ashley Hope Pérez, whose book Out of the dark banned in 24 US school districts, is a former high school English teacher and current literature professor at Ohio State University. She says that more book banners should be ready to read the entire document to understand the context.

“Let’s talk about why an author would make these choices,” she told The Daily Beast. “I was blown away by my refusal to read. These people don’t read books and even if they read passages in books, they will fail my 10th grade English. They are bound to fail in my world literature class because context is so important. Any given passage is part of a literary whole”.

Out of the darka novel about New London school boom in 1930s Texas, incorporating some of Pérez’s own experience.

“With Out of the dark… I wrote this novel, in part, because I saw what traumatic history does to communities,” she said. “I am angry because we know that it is very helpful to have access to literature that represents experience – something young people may not have the words for – it is very helpful to be able to name that harm.”

Both Hopkins and Pérez said they had been accused of ulterior motives to hurt children.

“I’m not there to hurt anyone,” Hopkins said. “I am there to help these children find their way to a better future. That’s my whole point. That is all.”

According to the PEN list, Hopkins is the most frequently banned author, with 43 bans. Queer’s Gender by Maia Kobabe, the second most banned author, is the most banned book. According to reports, the memoir was obtained from 41 counties. Next to All boys are not blue by George M. Johnson and Pérez’s Out of the dark.

“The data underscores the increasingly rapid pace at which entire categories of books — especially those with black protagonists, address racial issues, or highlight characters and themes — are not readily available. LGBTQ+ themes — are being taken off the shelves in classrooms and school libraries,” the report reads.

“This censorship movement is turning our public schools into political battlegrounds, empowering communities, forcing teachers and librarians to quit their jobs, and instilling a spirit of open inquiry. and the intellectual freedom that underlies a flourishing democracy,” said PEN US executive officer officer Suzanne Nossel after the report was made. “This goes beyond organic expressions of interest.”

The Daily Beast previously reported that a new compliance rule has Texas School District pull dozens of books before the 2022-23 school year, including the Bible and an adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary. In August, one teacher in Oklahoma resigned after a law was passed saying teachers must not make transgender white children uncomfortable. In May, one school district in Ohio banned a historical novel for “sex and wickedness”.

The restrictions came after far-right experts began campaigning against important racial theory classroom. Bans are not limited to literature, even math textbook was burned.

As parents and community members continue to wage a political war against school districts and libraries, Hopkins said the harm will ultimately fall on the children, who need to feel heard. and understand.

Pérez agrees that it is detrimental that young people have resources available but they may not have access.

“What was probably the most painful thing for me and for other writers,” she said, “we wrote these books because we believed that the stories we were putting on shelves were for Youth is important surnamethey give them perspectives they wouldn’t have, they give them access to elements of our history that they don’t have, allowing them to imagine the experiences of their classmates or people. “

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