Courtesy of School Library Journal
November 16, 2021
Shock. Sadness. Anger. Resolve. When an author’s book is challenged, they can go through many emotions.
Book challenges are not new, of course. But a nationwide, coordinated effort by organizations that assemble talking points for targeting books on diversity and inclusion lists in classrooms and libraries has meant a particularly difficult time for children’s publishing. With an “astronomical” increase in challenges this year compared to last—according to Kristin Pekoll of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom—and more media attention on authors, they find themselves and their stories in the middle of a culture war.
Graphic novelist Jarrett J. Krosoczka wrote about those kids who can feel alone too. And after his book, Hey Kiddo, was challenged by parents in Iowa in November for “excessive vulgarity” he wrote a letter to the editor of the Des Moines (IA) Register. In the letter, he wrote about the unpredictability, loneliness, and impact on mental health of growing up with a parent with an addiction. In his letter, he cited recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics of drug overdoses in Iowa.
“I wrote Hey, Kiddo both for the young adults living through family addiction to feel less alone and for their classmates with more traditionally idyllic realities to grow empathy,” Krosoczka wrote.
“There is an oft-used expression, ‘Books save lives.’ It might sound trite, but it is absolutely true. According to the CDC, among the means to prevent teen suicide is to provide access to social-emotional learning and to create a feeling of connectedness. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have put Hey, Kiddo out into the world, and that the book has had a positive impact on readers. They reach out to me directly to thank me for representing this experience and drawing attention to what it’s like to be the child of a parent with addictions.”