Speak Loudly + The Mockingbirds Giveaway

I wasn't going to blog about this, because so many authors much more eloquent than myself have already written about it, but . . . I have a handful of readers who are NOT in the YA community who might not have heard, so this post is for them.

It's also for every single one of my friends who has been raped.

Here's the story: Two days ago, in an opinion piece in a Missouri newspaper, a university associate professor named Wesley Scroggins challenged three books, one of which was Laurie Halse Anderson's groundbreaking novel Speak. In the most simple terms possible, the story is about a girl who is raped and loses her voice.

And the guy who wrote the opinion piece has the nerve to compare the rape scenes in Speak to "soft pornography."


Here is Anderson's response:

"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.

Some people say that I shouldn’t make a big deal about this. That I am giving him more attention than he deserves. But this guy lives about an hour and half from the school district that banned Sherman Alexie’s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN this month.

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."

Not only is his comparison despicably vile, but HE'S COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT OF THE BOOK. That we need to SPEAK UP about rape. If this book goes on to be officially challenged or banned, it sends a message of silence to rape victims. Which to that I say:


Here are some actions suggested by Anderson that we can do to help:

"Please share your experiences with SPEAK; your own response to the book, or the way you’ve seen it work in a school setting . . . please share links to your blog in [Anderson's] Comments. But then, please speak up to the people who can make a real difference in Republic, MO.

You can submit a letter to the editor of the News-Leader.

You can write to the superintendent of the Republic School District, Dr. Vern Minor, or to the high school principal, Daren Harris.

You can comment directly to Scroggins’ opinion piece."

I'm also buying a copy of Speak for every public library in my county that did not already own one. (Five new copies on the way!) AND this whole thing is making me think of another brilliant, compassionately written novel about rape, The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.

"Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way—the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds—a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone—especially yourself—you fight for it."

Here's an actual quote from an email I sent to a friend just last night: "I love Daisy's book. It's about rape, but it's NOT depressing. It's a story about healing, about regaining power and being happy and comfortable with relationships and sex again. And . . . there's a seeeeriously cute boy in it!"

(Ha ha! I can never resist mentioning a cute boy. And, yes, as you can guess by the title and cover, it has an awesome connection with To Kill a Mockingbird.)

It's my favorite YA contemporary debut of the year. By far. Unfortunately, The Mockingbirds won't be released until November 2nd, but:

If you are either: (A) a librarian or (B) a teacher with a library in your classroom, please leave a comment on this post to enter to win a pre-order of The Mockingbirds for your public collection.

Make sure to mention that you're a librarian or teacher in your comment, so I'll know you're officially entering. I'll draw a winner at the end of the week.

And finally, here's a video of Laurie Halse Anderson reading a poem called "Listen" based on the letters she's received about Speak:

Have a great week, my friends. Speak loudly.



  1. I don't have words for how angry all this shit makes me.

    Someone who is very important to me was raped and then made to feel like it was her fault (by the rapist no less). I hate him a little bit more each day for what he did to her.

    I was surprised to find that my state library doesn't hold any of Laurie's books (although, I don't think it's because of the content) and I'm busy remedying that.

    Thanks for a great post, Steph.

  2. Anonymous4:43 PM GMT-5

    This is crazy to me. That some schools have banned the book.

    In my high school English class Speak was a REQUIRED read... and I live in UTAH! Where all things about sex (consented or otherwise) are covered up like we're going to burst into flames just by talking about it. Granted if the students parents thought they shouldn't read it then they were able to skip it, but my teacher made it very clear that this book was going to be read in our class even if only one person was allowed to read it.

    Speak is one of the most groundbreaking books of my generations. I'm so glad that I read it. It's helped so many people. Banning it and degrading it is beyond ignorant. Its almost arrogant.

    Thanks for the great post Steph.

  3. Ooo, I am definitely going to check out Mockingbirds. If it's half as good as Speak, I'll still end up in tears.

  4. Your post made me cry! I love you!! You are amazing!

  5. Ok, so I feel totally greedy coming on here and saying, "I'm a teacher, please enter me," since I just won your ANNA ARC. And I'm not usually so greedy for free stuff, I swear.


    I will do almost anything for good books for my classroom library. I have 790 books in my room right now (including Speak and Part-Time Indian and many well-loved copies of Slaughterhouse-Five), and I am always trying to get more. Especially good books that get my kids talking and thinking and feeling.

    So, yeah, I'm entering after I just won something from you. But that was for me, and this one is for the kids! I think it's an important issue and one that I am proud to talk about with my students.

    Great post!

  6. I seriously want to get this Scroggins guy in a room and smack him across the face.

    I'm a teacher and I'd love to be entered into your drawing!

  7. It irritates me when people who don't get it voice their comments in a public forum. Thanks for the post, Steph! I would love to win a copy of The Mockingbirds for my library!

  8. Excellent post Stephanie, well said! I haven't read Speak yet, but I have read The Mockingbirds and agree it's amazing and so well done. Sadly I'm sure someone will try to ban it as soon as it's released, probably without reading it too.

  9. Every time I hear that poem, it brings tears to my eyes. I can't believe some people. I'm posting about this on Wednesday. And definitely doing some giveaways.

  10. Great post, Steph! I can understand that certain books are wrong for certain people, but they should never be allowed to prevent those books from reaching the people who need them.

    And I am a teacher with a library, but I teach pre-school, so you'd better give the book to someone who teaches the older kiddos. ;)

  11. Great post - way to go on my book donations too! I love to see people standing up for our young people, especially those who are so many times afraid to stand for themselves! Please enter me in you giveaway - I am a library assistant in a high school media center and would love to have a copy of Mocking Birds for my students. I can't seem to keep the realistic fiction on the selves - the young girls are just chewing them up! Thank goodness there are authors who will write about the things that they need to read about! Every year I replace our copy of Cut because some girl feels the need to keep ours. Thanks for all you do!

  12. Brilliant idea to buy the book for the local libraries.
    Scroggins is an idiot. He obviously didn't read the book.

  13. Speak is such a powerful work and can help so many girls in so many ways. Scroggins definitely missed the point. It is disturbing that he finds it pornographic.

  14. Katie Mitchell12:46 PM GMT-5

    Fantastic post! I commented on LHA's blog as well, but thank you for standing up to bullies. We need more voices like you!
    BTW I'm a teen librarian in Michigan. (katie@saline.lib.mi.us)

  15. Wow. The poem was amazing. Power of the word of the book of the author. It is no wonder many people try to fight against the book. They are helpless to silence the voice of truth and freedom and justice, but still they try.

  16. Wow. I hadn't heard/read about this. By the way, I DO work in a library, and we have as yet not ordered The Mockingbirds......but we will! I do know that we have Speak both in print and audio. Obviously no plans to change that, in fact, I will suggest that we order it for our download-able digital library as well. Thanks, Stephanie!

  17. Wow, I can't believe that anyone would even think of banning SPEAK or not letting their child read it! This is insane!
    I don't live in the US (I did go to college there, though) and I only heard about SPEAK last year. I was never required to read it, and I thought that it's a shame...
    Now, I was never raped, but when I was reading this book, I was going through a very tough time in my life and I wasn't able to communicate to others how I felt, so this novel still hit home. It was poignant and real, and in the end, even hopeful. When I have kids some day, I'll recommend this book to them for the message it carries about speaking up for yourself, about seeking help, and about healing.
    Truly, this novel is amazing, and it saddens me to think that anyone could look at it so superficially and even go so far as to compare any parts of it to porn. Really, that person should go back and read it again (if they have even read it properly the first time) and while reading it, also think about everyone else out there who has felt like Melinda at some point or another. Maybe then, they won't be so quick to judge.

  18. I thought you said it quite well Steph. Thanks for spreading the awareness.

  19. Steph,

    I'd love to win a copy of "The Mockingbirds" to add to my homegrown collection for my future classroom. I am in the midst of earning my teaching degree after subbing for four years and will, hopefully, have my own room in the fall. As a side note, our middle school had the book "The Misfits" by James Howe as a Lit Circle choice and the discussions by the students were excellent. A book to check out if you are a teacher.

  20. Anonymous1:54 PM GMT-5

    I'm a librarian in an academic library, but we have a leisure reading section I would love to add it to. These issues hit home.

    allisontb [at] hendrix [dot] edu