Writer’s Cramp is the blog and site for B. Jenne’ Hall, writer, genius, and pathological optimist. She’s written her first book, is working on her second, and she’s trying to get published. Which from all accounts seems to be as approximately attainable as the gift of flight, but who doesn’t love a challenge?

Entries in advocacy (2)


It's that time of year again!

Next week is Banned Books Week, in which we celebrate books that have been challenged, restricted, or banned by moralizing busybodies and narrow-minded idealogues who think it’s their job to dictate what everyone else can and can’t read, believe, and think.

This year is the 30th anniversary of BBW. It is to weep that we even have to have this discussion at all, nevermind that we have been celebrating BBW for 30 years. This beautiful timeline highlights the books featured each year during BBW, including the typical objections to that particular book. It includes the usual suspects — The Color Purple, Catcher In the Rye, The Satanic Verses — and others that boggle. (In the Night Kitchen…really? Really?? And don’t even get me started on To Kill A Mockingbird being on that list.) And it’s an insight into how much further we have left to go in tolerance, open-mindedness, and enlightenment before we can call ourselves a civilized society.

So strike a blow against censorship and read a book next week. Even better: read a banned book.


Won't someone think of the zombies??

Libraries in communities across the country are facing devastating budget cuts or even closure. To say that this is bad is to call the Gulf Oil spill “unfortunate”. Thanks to some amazing people, a great grassroots advocacy organization, and some truly hilarious and talented folks, there’s a clever new campaign to raise awareness and donations: Zombies for Libraries! They’re the brilliant minds behind this terrific and hilariously awesome video:

(Check out their site for more great videos featuring zombies, libraries, and brainnnnnsssssss. I love their motto: ”Libraries Feed Brains! Brains Feed Zombies! Help the Zombies Help The Libraries!”)

Without libraries, people of every age and income bracket — but especially low-income kids — lose a vital link to the best, most valuable resource anyone has: information and knowledge. For some, it’s their only access to online facilities or information or both.

Without libraries, yours truly couldn’t have read the hundreds of books she burned through in her formative years. Books were my haven and my escape, and there were and are a lot of kids just like me who probably couldn’t even function if they didn’t have a way to feed their book hunger.

The librarian at my public library growing up granted me an exception to both their checkout limit and age rule because my reading level was higher than the children’s and young adults’ sections (though I did read most everything in both of those sections) and I read so much that I was basically checking out a new book every day when I was limited to only six books at once. The summer I spent in an even smaller town that my own hometown would’ve been seriously impacted if not for the twice weekly trips to the little library up the street (partly because I was recovering from a broken arm that summer); the librarian there waived the limitations for me, too, after the first three weeks of visits.

It was librarians who first introduced me to Jane Austen, Robert Heinlein, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Ursula K. LeGuin, S.E. Hinton, and others well before any high school or college literature class. Kids like I was aren’t rare, and all over the country, librarians are some of the most important figures in a young person’s life.

We have librarians to thank for some of the best books for children and young adults, because their word-of-mouth recommendations and networking are considered better and more powerful PR than any book review or NYT list appearance. If librarians support a book, publishers are known to expand their push for a particular book or even reconsider the marketing budget a book initially received.

And it’s libraries and librarians we have to thank for keeping the most commonly censored books, the ones that regularly appear on book banning lists, alive and well and available for everyone. They are staunch activists against censorship — including internet censorship — and they stand up to some pretty frightening machinery of anger and hysteria and ignorance.  Because of them, libraries truly represent the idea of “freedom of information”, and if that concept has any importance to you, then you’ll consider doing something to save libraries.