Ellen Hopkins is the latest victim in the fight to protect the young from reality. You can read the beginning of this dreadful saga at Ms. Hopkins’ blog, Censorship Bites. In a follow up post to her original, she made a request that people might contact Mr. Sconzo. I did just thats. I then decided to write my own post on this, but then I saw how many others had done that and decided to post the letter I sent Mr. Sconzo instead. So below is my response to this insanity.
My name is Karen Syed and I am the president of Echelon Press Publishing based in Laurel, MD. It has recently been brought to my attention as well as the attention of the industry that you played a key role in having Ellen Hopkins removed from the appearance roster of the Teen Lit Fest. How sad I find this.
While I do not live in your area, I do not have children in your school, and I will not be attending the Lit Fest, I still feel it important that you know the possible impact your actions may have on the lives of many young readers. We live in such a peculiar society. We complain incessantly about the decreasing test scores, the rise of adult illiteracy, and the overall rise in crimes and suicides being committed by young adults. Why do you think this is? Young adults are talked down to, they are sheltered from anything that might actually help them make important decisions in their lives, and they are discouraged from thinking for themselves.
One important factor is the lack of intelligent reading materials available to engage young readers and make them want to increase their skills and allow them to become intelligent and productive adults.
Then, there is the overwhelming amount of gratuitous violence made available in the media outlets (videos, video games, even music). By disengaging young people from the opportunity to meet and be inspired by an author of Ms. Hopkins’ caliber, you have made it even more probable that they will spend the time—which might be better spent at the Lit Fest meeting Ms. Hopkins—at home glued to a televisions with a movie or a video game teaching them how to kill more effectively.
Ms. Hopkins has become an extremely sought after author with regard to speaking to and communicating with young readers. The potential positive influence a woman of this character could have on young people is invaluable to society as a whole. Ms. Hopkins takes the time to explore issues that many think are taboo for young readers. She does not glorify these issues, she puts them into perspective and allows the readers to embrace the positive potential of making better decisions. Her works are not dark and morbid, they enlighten, and more than anything they engage young readers. Isn’t this what we want for our future generations? To be engaged enough to care about something other than violence.
I have had the honor of being a co-presenter at an event with Ms. Hopkins that took place at a high school. She is not only intelligent, she is committed to the idea that her books help young readers while entertaining them. She is exactly what an event like the Lit Fest deserves to have. She is exactly who the attendees of the Lit Fest deserve to come in contact with.
It is a shame that you have chosen to censor her and her works on behalf of those you claim to be committed to. You have, in turn, probably done more harm than Ms. Hopkins and her work ever could and you have infringed on the rights of those young readers who would have benefitted from knowing her.
I sincerely hope that in the future you will actually consider the needs of your charges as opposed to the importance of your own personal opinions.
Karen Syed, President, Echelon Press LLC
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