Intolerance and The Fate of Fairy Tales in West Virginia
In Citrus County, Florida, the county commissioners laughed at the idea of paying for a subscription to the New York Times, a subscription which would have benefitted 70,000 people, allowing them access to news and research. Their reasoning? The commissioners personally felt the New York Times was “fake news”.
Now another community “leader”, this time a pastor in West Virginia, is taking a similar position—his personal beliefs or opinions should supersede his community’s access to reading material, because the fairy tale he believes in of an omnipotent god who created the universe in seven days two thousand years ago is more realistic than a fairy tale about two guys falling in love.
The children’s book was removed from the shelves of the library at the wishes of a pastor who released an anti-LGBTQ statement claiming the book “is a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children, especially boys, into the LGBTQA lifestyle.” Pastor Layfield claimed that the only reason his four sons are straight “is that they never read children’s books with gay knights in them.”
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis states that “The decision to remove Prince & Knight from the shelves of the Upshur County Public Library is an act of discrimination, plain and simple. Inclusive children’s books do not ‘indoctrinate’ but do allow LGBTQ families and their children the chance to see themselves reflected in the world.”
Daniel Haack, the author of ‘Prince & Knight’ (as well as coauthoring ‘Maiden & Princess’ with Isabel Galupo) said the book is “meant to be a fun little adventure story that also just happens to better reflect the reality of millions of families not seen in other children’s stories. If the protesters are worried that reading this book will turn someone gay, I can easily refer them to all the gay adults who grew up only reading about straight romances.”
At a meeting of the library board on November 20 the president of the board walked out after several minutes of protest when it became clear that the board would not hear public comment on the banning of the book.
The book’s ultimate fate—whether it is to remain in the children’s section, get moved to the adult section, or get banned entirely—will be decided at a later date.
Until then you can show your support for inclusive storytelling by purchasing your own copy of Daniel Haack’s books, ‘Prince & Knight’, ‘Maiden & Princess’, or other similar titles such as ‘Jack (Not Jackie)’, ‘Our Rainbow’, ‘Except When They Don’t’, ‘Jacob’s New Dress’, ‘The Princess and the Treasure’, and ‘And Tango Makes Three’ just to name a few.
Are there any diverse or inclusive titles you’ve found or read to your kids that positively represent LGBTQ characters? Add them in the comments and I’ll try to update with cover images and links for others to purchase them.
Also check out Megan Walsh’s article, “The Missing Youth: How Rigid Gender Roles In Children’s Media Leave Many Kids Out of the Picture”
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Finding the Way to Read “The End and Other Beginnings”
We stocked so much of this series, especially around the holidays, that if we’d wanted to we could probably have built a table out of the books to display the books on. (When James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” exploded because of Oprah I’m pretty sure we did just that in the front window of the store just to save ourselves time.)
When “The End and Other Beginnings”, a collection of novella-length stories by Veronica Roth, popped up in Libby I thought it might be a good introduction to her writing.
Having just finished “No Country for Old Gnomes”—and the third book in that series not being available yet or I would have jumped on it immediately—some futuristic short stories might be just what I need to cleanse my literary palate of fantasy adventuring with magical creatures and those backstabbing halflings. And a goat-turned-human who really should be commended for controlling his bowels when frightened. I think we can all agree that’s an admirable trait in our leaders.
I can be a little hesitant with listening to short stories—I tend to agree with Mavis Gallant’s opinion that, “Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait.”
And that’s definitely not how I consume audiobooks. Especially ones I’ve borrow from the library—there’s a deadline, after all, and one doesn’t have infinite time to savor the individual tales. I have a collection of Raymond Carver short stories that I pick up and read a story from every few months. Same goes for a collection of Hemingway short stories, my copy’s spine broken badly in several places to Mark “Hills Like White Elephants” or “The End of Something” and a few other staples of raw, concise, finely crafted short fiction. With a physical book its easy enough to do that, but not in this situation.
Does anyone out there have a preference for how you read books? Favored formats for specific subjects or styles? I like physical books for short stories, and I enjoy reading Ebooks for nonfiction. It’s almost like needing a certain pen or notebook for a particular writing project, like needing to change clothes to suit a situation.
Some books are best as mass markets, the pulp detective stories or movie-of-the-week thrillers; while some need to hardcovers, their physical weight mirroring the perceived heaviness of their content; and the English teacher’s favorite assigned reading, the consummate literary prize winner reprinted in trade paperback with delusions of hardcover grandeur with its cover flaps and jagged, uneven pages.
Or maybe that’s just me….