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Norman Public Schools did the right thing”¦

3:00 AM EDT on September 23, 2009

glass

Yesterday, the Norman Public Schools canceled an event featuring Author Ellen Hopkins.  From the Oklahoman:

A visit by a best-selling author to a Norman middle school was canceled after a parent questioned the content of one of the author's books.

Author Ellen Hopkins was scheduled to speak to eighth-graders at Whittier Middle School today about her career, writing process and books.

Hopkins is the author of several New York Times best-selling books for young adults. She was notified Thursday her visit was canceled because a parent at the school requested a review of her book "Glass."

The free-verse novel is the second in a series about a teen dealing with drug addiction. The novel is loosely based on Hopkins' experience with her own daughter, who was addicted to methamphetamine.

Fortunately, though, her visit to Oklahoma City was not wasted:

A crowd of students, teachers and librarians gathered to hear best-selling author Ellen Hopkins speak Tuesday night.

Hopkins, who has written several novels for young adults, was originally scheduled to speak at Whittier Middle School in Norman, but her visit was canceled after a parent challenged content in her book "Glass."

She decided to come anyway, and she spoke to about 150 people in a lecture hall at Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College.Hopkins' novels deal with serious issues teens face, like drug addiction, suicide and sexual abuse.

"Glass," is loosely based on Hopkins' experience with her daughter, who became addicted to methamphetamine.

Tuesday night she told how her daughter went from being a straight-A student to a drug addict. The choices she made ruined her life, Hopkins said.

She said she writes about the tough subjects because teens are facing these situations every day.

Initially, I had the typical WTF reaction when I read this story, but after pondering the situation a bit more, I think everything turned out for the best.

Think about it.  Is a public middle school really the most appropriate place for an author to talk about depressing books that "deal with serious issues teens face, like drug addiction, suicide and sexual abuse?"   I'm aware that those are important issues and everything "” and that eventually they need to be addressed "” but doing so in a public middle school with some weird fiction writer from Nevada leading the discussion seems a bit odd.

If anything, Norman Public Schools should bring in someone to talk about the real "serious"issues 13-year-old kids face.  Issues like body odor, strange hairs and why the girl in the cafeteria is suddenly attractive.  I nominate Curtis Fitzpatrick to lead that discussion.

Anyway, I guess that's why I'm glad that this turned into a public event where parents, librarians, students, or whoever else reads these depressing books could meet the author on their own time.  I'm also glad I didn't go.  That would have been boring.

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