Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Neglected Mailbox (Numero Tres)

Don't you just love inadequate room lighting?

**Goodreads Summary:

"Shocked by the teenage violence she witnessed during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, Erin Gruwell became a teacher at a high school rampant with hostility and racial intolerance. For many of these students–whose ranks included substance abusers, gang members, the homeless, and victims of abuse–Gruwell was the first person to treat them with dignity, to believe in their potential and help them see it themselves. Soon, their loyalty towards their teacher and burning enthusiasm to help end violence and intolerance became a force of its own. Inspired by reading The Diary of Anne Frank and meeting Zlata Filipovic (the eleven-year old girl who wrote of her life in Sarajevo during the civil war), the students began a joint diary of their inner-city upbringings. Told through anonymous entries to protect their identities and allow for complete candor, The Freedom Writers Diary is filled with astounding vignettes from 150 students who, like civil rights activist Rosa Parks and the Freedom Riders, heard society tell them where to go–and refused to listen."

Dear Viewer Who Has Oh-So-Wonderfully Watched this Cry for Help,

Just as a prologue to this post...if you don't know what "In My Neglected Mailbox" is, feel free to watch the video posted to the right titled "They Want to Be Heard".

First, of all, "In My Mailbox" is a blog meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren ( and Alea at Pop Culture Junkie ( to let all of us book bloggers party on the web.

Second of all, the desperate book here is The Freedom Writers Diary by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell (sorry about the mix-up in my video...)

Fourth of all, thank you for giving my boisterous books your precious time. Trust that there will be another one hating on me on yet another post in the coming weeks.

Best wishes,

Uomo di Speranza

PS: Should parents censor what their children read? Be sure to join my debate on this topic here. Thank you!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Frivolously Follow Me this Friday! (Numero Cuatro)

"Follow Me Friday" is hosted by Parajunkie's View and Alison Can Read. This week's featured blogs and therefore supreme administers of question are The Book Addict and Books and Beyond, both of which are also composed by immensely interesting people indeed. So what question have they inquired of us today?

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. so we want to know what you are thankful for – blogging related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?

How excellent, considering today is my blogoversary! Anyway, I would say that, above all, Kerrin at My Kugelhopf helped me establish this blog in the first place. Her blog was the first I ever read, and after enough minutes drooling at the beautiful pictures of pies and pastries and cakes and knishes she has taken (please do yourslef a favor and scurry over to see them!), I started paying attention to the concept of what I was reading....your life, on the internet....a main editorial board to get through. Hey, this thing called a blog was pretty sweet.

Now....books I am thankful for reading? My top two must be:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
This book is why I write. As an eight-year-old, I saw the fantastic world Rowling created and immediately wanted to have that, to have a place where every detail flowed from my pen, where my mind was supreme (I wasn't the most usual eight-year-old...)  My first story was about two abandoned Arctic foxes, quickly followed by an attempt at the Great American Novel. I have been attempting ever since.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
To sum up this book in a few words, "The Catcher in the Rye with a better theme." I was astounded with how well Chbosky recreated the situation of an unconfident teenager in an arrogant world. The medium used-letters to an unnamed "friend"-proved to be absolutely genius. So much did I adore this novel that when I discovered how so many parents discourage their youths from reading it becuase of "offensive content", there was nothing to do but formulate an argument against such censorship-you can see the products of this effort (and comment about what you think!) here.

So why do people have need to give thanks in general, one may inquire? It truly is related to fear. The Pilgrims feared their future, so they decided to dwell on what they possessed at the present moment. My schedule might resort to overload this year, causing me to not read a single world until Finals week. Entire families gather round tables and stuff themselves with American staple-foods because, well, who knows if someone will die or become broke or commit suicide in the coming year? Humans are used to controlling everything. They cannot control the future, but they can  dwell on their present so much so that the future is nonexistent.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Should Parents Censor What Their Kids Read?

Meditations of a Teenage Philosopher has always been a place where I can, frankly, do whatever the hell I want and see what people think of it. This is an experiment whose outcome I hope will be satisfactory. The following is an argument about censorship; if parents should censor what their children read, to be specific. After reading any (or all) of this argument, tell me...what do you think?

* * *  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Read Goodreads page here.
Read Shelfari page here.
Parents can try to protect their children in numerous ways. Some will insure that their child wears enough clothing to fight the cold, others will cut their child’s meat to fight the possibility of choking, others will leash their child to fight kidnappers, and others will control what their child reads to fight…what? What are they fighting? Bad stuff? Reality?  I would love to ask those parents if they realize that their children are in fact part of reality; that they, all too soon, will play its harsh game. And in order to play a game, to win a game, it helps to know the playing board as early as possible. Therefore, parents should not censor what their children read based on content they find offensive both because that offensive content is often times commonplace in the world and because said content can be thoroughly explained in literature, a convenient phenomenon considering that most parents feel uncomfortable talking about it. Furthermore, children who have been given the thorough explanation by literature will prove much more able to attain success in an utterly uncensored world compared to those who have not. 
To explore this national dilemma, let us focus on a piece of literature that is frequently on the “front lines”, so to speak-The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. According to the American Library Association, it is the third most banned book in the country.  This piece contains a freshman named Charlie struggling with the dilemma of passivity vs. passion –should he remain a wallflower and simply examine peoples’ lives from a distance, or actually live himself?  It also contains teenage pregnancy, profanity, heterosexual intercourse, homosexual intercourse, rape, drug abuse, domestic violence, suicide, and child molestation.  Cue the complaints board. 
In October 2009 at Roanoke, Virginia’s William Boyd High School, Perks passed from the hands of an English teacher to the son of John Davis. Davis saw his son reading the book voraciously and immediately examined it, only to find what he called quote-on-quote “offensive content.” He remarked how teens reading about those “offensive” activities portrayed in the book would, by nature, perform the “offensive” activities themselves.  Mr. Davis therefore took issue with the principal, who had the school board place it under review. Just last February, a similar situation happened in Clarkstown, New York when a group of parents petitioned the district to ban Chbosky’s book. Parents Aldo and Patti Devivo compiled a list of phrases they found offensive, including “One day CB got so drunk he tried to f- the host’s dog” and “what the f- Jesus.” Upon the latter, Aldo stated, “As a Christian, do we really need to take the Lord’s name in vain like that?” Well, yes, we do, Aldo, because most people (including some adolescents) are not as “Christian” as you are. They will use the Lord’s name in vain quite frequently. In fact, about half the people I am in daily contact with do so. Another parent stated how “The words in there are so disgusting. The ‘f’ word. Private organ parts. Sounds pornographic-not for English class.” Well, guess what? Not everyone has the clean mouth you do. Plus, you have a penis and your wife has a vagina; neither of those facts change while your child is in school.
Then there is Patti, who cried, “Why does the classroom really have to put a book with this kind of material in their hands?”
Well, I have an answer for you, Patti -because that “material” is reality. As previously stated, profanity is rampant in modern society. However, that is just the mildest. By their nineteenth birthday, 70% of American males and females have had sexual intercourse. There are 4 million homosexual people and 3 million child molestation victims in America. Each year, 750,000 American girls aged 15-19 get pregnant and 30,000 people commit suicide. The same can be said for other issues many parents find offensive, such as binge drinking or sexism-they are highly usual in this world.  Mr. Davis, it brings me great melancholy to tell you that most minors, including your daughter, discover these issues by observation or word of mouth, not books-how could they not with the issues’ prevalence? Many discoveries even take place at the elementary school level. I know that I, for example, first heard about “s-e-x” in the fourth grade. Thus, you can’t blame a novel if your daughter decides to get laid at a local motel.   

But the problem is that when minors discover these issues, at no matter what age, they do not receive sound understandings of them. Witnessing someone at their high school giving a mommy-rub or hearing about “s-e-x” at the fourth-grade lunch table doesn’t let them see the ridicule she faces while pregnant, or the carnal experience “s-e-x” entails. In most minor’s lives, parents are the only people we can trust to accurately describe these issues; yet, can many parents accurately describe the feelings associated with teenage pregnancy, or would they ever describe a sexual experience to their child? I do not think so. This is a need that reading can fill superbly. A minor reading about the pregnancy of Charlie’s teenage sister, how she wept uncontrollably, made Charlie drive her to the abortion clinic in secret, and lived every second under the fear of her parent’s discovery, will give them a much deeper understanding of the teenage pregnancy issue. A narrative of how Charlie lost his virginity would give them a deeper understanding of “s-e-x” as well.

Fast forward to the real, adult world-those minors, as adults, will both be in contact with people from all walks of life and endure many experiences. Whether a lover, business partner, or sibling, those people may be dealing with or have dealt with such offensive issues, such offensive content. The adults may have to deal with the content themselves. Now, adults who never understood more than a stolen whisper about it, whose parents insisted the content’s nonexistence, would not know how to properly deal with neither the people or that direct, offensive situation in their own life. Meanwhile, adults whose parents at least acknowledged the content by letting them read related literature would have a better idea of what those people are enduring, or what the adults must endure themselves. This will allow them to have more pleasant bonds with those people. This will allow them to have more pleasant, personal experiences when facing these situations. And from the aforementioned strong basis, those adults can build a life where success in any goal they desire is attained.

What can you do about this conflict? How about going to the library to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. To read literature that will give you an inside look unto the offensive content of humanity. If your parents have an issue, feel free to tell them that reality, a reality you will soon inherit, exists no matter what.

So really....what's going on in that noggin of yours?
* * *
*The bibliography for this post is accessible here.