BAD FOR YOU AT THE LIBRARY

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As part of the American Library Association’s celebration of Banned Books Week, which is taking place from Sept. 21-27, BAD FOR YOU authors Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham will be presenting two special slide show readings at local libraries, detailing the dark days in this country when comic books were once burned! That’s right, comics were thought to be corrupting kids in the 1940s and 50s! And guess what, grown-ups are still trying to ban comics today!!!

In fact, BAD FOR YOU has a whole chapter on the kinds of reading materials that adults were once afraid of kids partaking in—including fears from ancient times about reading itself! Also included will be examples of scary old fairy tales and the secret to why Harry Potter books keep getting banned (hint, it has something to do with the devil).

The Banned Book Week presentations seem especially appropriate this year given that the ALA is focusing on censorship issues around comics and graphic novels. “We want to publicize the many events being organized around the country during Banned Books Week,” said Judy Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week Executive Committee, “to show the collective voice that is speaking out against censorship.”

The first talk will be presented at the Hamilton Grange Library, 503 West 145th Street in the Bronx, on Monday, September 22, from 3-4:30 pm and will include a hands-on section where kids can make their own comics.  On Saturday, September 27, the authors will be talking at Manhattan’s main branch, at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium, from 3 to 4 pm.

Both events are free and open to the public. Hope everyone in the area can join the authors for our celebration of Banned Books Week and find out how much fun BAD can be!

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.nypl.org/events/programs/2014/09/27/bad-you-celebrating-banned-books-week

OH BROTHER!

Young Adult sci-fi novel, Little Brother, was recently booted off a Florida high school summer reading list. According to the novel’s author, Cory Doctorow, the school’s principal “cited reviews that emphasized the book’s positive view of questioning authority,” as the problem. Guess “questioning authority” is an idea that the students at Booker T. Washington High couldn’t be bothered with over their break. An affirmative view on “hacker culture” was also troubling. “In short,” Doctorow said, “…the book was being challenged because of its politics and its content.”

To protest the principal’s decision, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) sent a letter to the Pensacola Florida school board asking that Little Brother be returned to the reading list. “School officials are bound by constitutional considerations, including a duty not to give in to pressure to suppress unpopular or controversial ideas,” said Executive Director Joan Bertin. “Cory Doctorow’s work as an author and activist engages with the realities today’s young people are confronting on a daily basis as citizens in their own right,” Charles Brownstein explained, who is another Executive Director, this time of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund—which is partners with the NCAC on The Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP).  “We hope the concerns expressed by all of us at the KRRP will lead school officials to honor the rights of their students by reinstating this valuable book, ” continued Brownstein.

BAD FOR YOU also adds it’s voice of support to Doctorow (and not just because of the great review he gave us at his amazing website BoingBoing.net).

GOOD NEWS/“BAD” NEWS

Time for another BAD FOR YOU roundup of reviews (excerpts included; follow link for full post).

From graphic novel writer/researcher/editor Paul Buhle’s review for The Comics Journal:

“For a book aimed at kids, this one is chock-full of information, but presented so well in comics (and also charts and info-graphics) that the details are destined to move easily, and usefully, into young minds.”

From comic legend Tony Isabella’s blog Tales of Wonder:

“This non-fiction book combines comic-book storytelling – art by Pyle – with graphs and prose articles in a delightful journey through the centuries. … If I ever write a sequel to 1000 Comic Books You Must Read, you can bet Pyle and Cunningham have earned themselves a place in it.”

From a “Young Adult/Children’s Librarian in Indiana” blog:

“This is a cool exploration of the many ways that adults have tried to take away fun from kids and teens.”

And from a self-described “ artistic queer vegan feminist librarian” at the blog Glitter and Dirt:

“AHHHH! This book is awesome!!!

The whole of the piece is a testament to the historical and present American mistrust and mistreatment of youth– it’s totally great. I read it straight through.”

Our interview on the Geekdad site “Video Games, D&D, and Farting on the Bus: Bad for You Is Good for You,” got a discussion going about the once vilified game of chess.

That exposure lead to a post on a gaming website Gamasutra –  a coveted spot in the eyes of the authors, since BAD FOR YOU features a whole section on the debate about the impact of video games on kids.

“Like video games, chess was once decried as a time-waster that kept kids entranced at a desk for hours when they could have been outside playing or studying something useful.”

BAD FOR YOU even appears on a website about “BIGFOOT” and “THE PARANORMAL.” It’s a blog by the author of Legend Tripping: The Ultimate Family Experience. The website features an excerpt from the book about, big surprise, Legend Tripping.

The Anti-Anniversary!

The country is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act this year, but on the other side of freedom, there’s another important anniversary to acknowledge as well: “On this day, in 1954, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency was closing out a second day of hearings.”

And, of course, one of the key speakers during the investigation was Dr. Fredric Wertham, who’s testimony before the committee helped to sway the senators to recommend the adoption of the comic book code, the self-imposed censorship that lead to the demise of much of the horror and crime comics from that period. What it didn’t lead to, though, was a decrease in juvenile delinquency. The numbers didn’t start to decline until the 1990s! The comic book code officially ended in 2012.

There has not been an increase in youth crime since the code was lifted.

In honor of this special day, we are reprinting our map of the comic book burning in America from the 1940s & 50s.

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GOOD FOR US

It’s a BAD FOR YOU review roundup from the last few weeks. We’re really proud and pleased to have so many nice reviews and from a wide variety of perspectives. Abby Schachter, the first and most recent listed below, is a reviewer for the libertarian magazine Reason. But Bad For You‘s appeal also reaches vegan skateboarders. How do we know that? Because of the great review at Vegan Skate Blog!  

We have included short excerpts from the reviews below, but hope you’ll click the links and peruse them all the way through! Many thanks to the folks who have taken the time to read our book and write about it!!!

From Reason: “Bad for You isn’t a complete antidote to parental insecurity, but it does have a valuable lesson to convey: We don’t have to fall for every mass hysteria about the evils of texting, Marilyn Manson, Mortal Kombat, or Dungeons and Dragons.”

From Sandra Dodd: “I suspect this will be one of those books kids get in trouble for owning or quoting, and that will be shared around at school, hidden under desks, and confiscated by teachers. Knowledge is power, and ephebiphobics Do NOT want kids to have power.”

From Vegan State Blog: “The title and cover practically scream out to any skateboarder…who has dealt with cops, security guards or over-zealous citizen. The book not only covers skateboarding, growing fears of new technologies, but goes in depth on subjects like Zero-Tolerance policies that have resulted in children’s suspension from elementary school for possession of nail clippers.”

University Laboratory High School Library Blog: “In the technology chapter there are a number of delicious digs at Internet filtering software, one of my favorite things to demonize. The ‘Moral Panic Media Cycle’ and the ‘Techno-Panic Timeline’ pages are suitable for framing.”

From The Alliance Review: “If you’re a kid who’s ever been told that texting will rot your brain or pop music is immoral or video games are turning you into a zombie, you need to read Bad for You.”

And here’s an older one from School Library Journal we missed in December: “Classroom uses for this title abound. Teens, particularly fans of the graphic format, will glom onto this fascinating book, which will give them one more reason not to trust the “’establishment’.”

 

 

BADFOOT

Anyone who knows me (me being co-author Scott Cunningham) knows I’m obsessed with Bigfoot. I even did a webcomic for a while called Lil’ Bigfoot. So if I see anything about this (probable) mythic creature, who also goes by the name Sasquatch, I simply must check it out. While the title of this new book, The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws, turns out to be a bit deceptive (it hardly anything about Bigfoot hunting in it), it still sounds like a great read. It also overlaps into territory covered in BAD FOR YOU, at least the parts of our book which focus on rules and regulations that rob kids of ways of having fun (and, in the long run, don’t seem to make a lot of sense). Our friends at Boing Boing do a good job and explaining what The Emergency Sasquatch is all about here.

 

 

BAD FOR YOU LIVE!

BAD FOR YOU authors Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham will be presenting a slideshow/reading on Wednesday, Feb. 26th from 7:00-8:00 pm at Watchung Booksellers, 54 Fairfield Street, Watchung Plaza, Montclair, NJ. The bookstore is great about supporting local authors, which is mighty handy since Kevin lives nearby. Though Scott lives in Brooklyn, he is a loco author, which is close enough. For further information you can call Watchung Booksellers at 974-744-7177.

HEART BRAKERS (AND MORE HEART BRAKERS)

(LONGER VERSION OF THE POST ON BOING BOING)

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Birds sing. Flowers bloom. Hearts and cute animals. Stuff you see on vintage Valentine’s Day cards school kids once  exchanged. But what would the cards look like if, instead of offering affection, they alerted children to the things about the holiday that could be BAD FOR YOU?

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SAUDI ARABIA has a Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice that hopes to clip any budding romance by prohibiting the sale of red roses on Valentine’s Day (though there’s a thriving black market for them). Selling anything shaped like a heart is also off-limits. Such conduct could lead young people “astray.” Or to jail: in 2012, they  arrested 140 people for Feb 14th infringements.

Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country to crack down on Valentine’s Day. There’s a ban on the holiday in Iran, too. Malaysian officials have warned Muslims against celebrating; in Pakistan, TV and radio stations are encouraged not to broadcast anything too romantic. Last year, the day before Valentine’s, nearly 500 elementary school students in Surakarta, Central Java marched in protest against youths in their city who do celebrate the day. It ended at the stadium where the kids colored slips of paper (probably not red and probably not heart-shaped) to just say “no” to Valentine’s Day. Another Java mayor, this time in Pekanbaru, likewise said it was a no-no at the schools within his jurisdiction because of those “negative activities” associated with the day. Closer to home, the Tennessee Senate said “Yes-Yes” to update an abstinence-based sex education law redefining hand holding as a “gateway sexual activity” (and that’s not just on Valentine’s Day).

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CANON CITY, COLORADO: Smooch a girl’s hand during music class and you can be accused of “sexual harassment”  – even if you’re a first grader. According to the boy’s mother, the girl and her son were “crushes” at the time and it wasn’t the girl who complained – it was the class tattle-tails (but isn’t it always?). The public kiss-and-tell sent Mom to the principal’s office: “That was the day I had the meeting. . .where [the principal] first said ‘sexual harassment’” – words that are now stamped on the kid’s permanent record.

Seem a bit young? Well, during the 2005-06 school year, Maryland kindergartens were seemingly teeming with sex offenders: 28 suspensions that school year – 15 for sexual harassment. Take for example the five-year-old Lincolnshire Elementary student who pinched a classmate’s bottom. “He knows nothing about sex,” the kid’s father protested. But it doesn’t matter if a kid is too young to understand the meaning of sexual harassment. “[I]f it fits under the definition,” according to the Washington Country Schools spokeswoman, “then it is….”

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WACO, TEX: A four-year-old decided to give his teacher’s aide a hug while waiting for the bus outside La Vega Primary school. She decided that his face rubbed her chest. The school sided with the aide and then they decided to give the boy a preschool, in-school suspension for inappropriate sexual behavior. After his angry dad complained to the local news that it was a misinterpreted embrace, the school downgraded the boy’s hug to “inappropriate physical contact.”

Now if you think what the school did was “inappropriate” then maybe you haven’t heard of “Zero Tolerance.” The name was first used to describe federal anti-drug law enforcement policies in the 1980s which was designed to send a strong message to criminals by punishing both major and minor drug offences harshly. After a few years, schools decided to zero in on kids. By 1989, school districts in New York, California, and Kentucky had mandatory automatic expulsion for drugs, fighting, or violence. Eight years later, it was amended to cover anything that could be used as a weapon; soon, “Zero Tolerance” was expanded by local school districts to cover lots of things: from cell phones to physical contact – anything a school decides is “disruptive behavior.” Like hugging.

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SALEMWOOD, MASS: On Feb. 14th, 2013, this elementary school didn’t exchange VD cards; instead, the kids swapped “Friendship cards.” Explaining that they didn’t want to offend any of the 67 different cultures found at the school, Principal Carol Keenan made sure “every single student” got a friendship card: “I didn’t want some students feeling left out.”

To make sure no one felt left out at Ashcombe Primary School in England, they left everyone out! The objective was to spare students the “emotional trauma” of rejection, so they rejected Valentine’s Day cards instead. The school believed that the children weren’t mature enough “emotionally and socially to understand the commitment involved in having or being a boyfriend or girlfriend.” Or the commitment involved in exchanging a greeting card either. In Calgary, Canada, they used an eco-friendly excuse to discard cards: “Imagine the trees we are saving by not exchanging cards in our school,” read a note sent home with the students. A note, one should note, that was written on paper. A student at James Madison Elementary School in Sheboygan, Wis. couldn’t deliver his holiday notes because of what was written on them: “Jesus Loves You” and “John 3:16.” School officials still allowed him to pass out his bags of candy hearts, but the religious references had to go. At least the kids got the candy (if not the message).

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SAN DIEGO, CAL.:  In 2007 Rancho Elementary decided that the school should encourage “healthier” Valentine choices. This left  students with limited decoration options: adding “sequins, buttons, pipe cleaners and wiggly eyes. . .to pieces of fruit.” Under the circumstances, the kids tried their best, even penning cute phrases to accompany their – ahem – treats, including: “You’d make a grape Valentine!” and “Orange you glad it’s Valentine’s Day?”

At nearby Temecula Elementary, sweets were also in short supply. At Wednesday’s Valentine Brunch, kids had a choice of fruit, carrots, granola and nuts. Granola? But you know what’s worse? Valentine origami. That’s what the principal of Horace Mann School, Newton Mass. suggested the kids exchange after he implemented a candy bar em-bar-go at the school.

While it’s hard for a kid to truly “heart” a “heart-healthy” treat, no one is going to argue that too much candy isn’t bad for you. But what if too little of something is bad for you, too. In a recent study, scientists tracked the amount of high-fives, chest bumps and backslaps between NBA teammates; they found “that the more on-court touching there was early in the season, the more successful teams and individuals were by season’s end,” even after factoring in differences in players’ skill-level and salaries. Rick Chillot, who’s article, “The Power of Touch” in Psychology Today, surveyed recent touching studies, describes how “seemingly insignificant touches yield bigger tips for waitresses, that people shop and buy more if they’re touched by a store greeter, and that strang- ers are more likely to help someone if a touch accompanies the request.” “They just feel there’s a connection,” explains Laura Guerrero, coauthor of Close Encounters: Communication in Relationships. “They feel that they like that person more.”

Better put the brakes on that!

Special thanks to Phillip S. Pittz

MORAL PANIC AT FREE RANGE KIDS!!!

One of BAD FOR YOU’s favorite websites, Free Range Kids, has excerpted a section of text from our new book. Lenore Skenazy, the host of Free Range Kids, as well as the author of the great Free Range Kids book (available at Amazon here) has painstakingly stripped away the graphics from our Moral Panic Media Cycle chart to fit the format of her website, just so she could run a section of BAD FOR YOU — which we really appreciate (there’s also a section of the original chart as well).

Many thanks Lenore!