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Letters to the Editor, September/October 2017

july/August 2017 Horn Book MagazineJuly/August 2017 Horn Book

As a longtime Horn Book subscriber, a former children’s librarian, and an advocate for social justice education, the letters to the editor in the July/August 2017 issue simultaneously encouraged and discouraged me. I was encouraged because expressing differences of opinion is a healthy and necessary element of a working democracy. I was discouraged by the tone in each letter suggesting that children’s literature and perhaps even children themselves should be separate from politics. Since when? Do we want our children to arrive at adulthood with historical amnesia and without developing a tolerance for the ambiguity and complexity of cultural, political, and social life? I would think that most teachers and librarians, retired or active, would want to promote books that address equality, that encourage and model compassion and inclusion, and that tell of the historical and current struggles for civil and human rights. If this isn’t “political,” then I don’t know what is.

As for Trump, I would ask those who wrote the letters to look no further than his choice of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, or his executive order to drill in our national monuments, or his language of bravado and bullying. How do his choices serve the best interests of this nation’s children? When the secretary of education wants to dismantle public schools, how does this support children in obtaining the free and fair education they all deserve? If the Trump administration insists on devastating our natural resources and magnificent wilderness, what kind of country will our children inherit? When selecting books for children and young adults, we are investing in the integrity and sustainability of our country. The well-being of our environment and of our children should be first and foremost in our minds, not a debate about who is liberal and who conservative, who is “left” and who “right.”

I salute Roger Sutton for his response to these letters, holding to the ethics and principles that should be at the heart of any publication directing teachers, librarians, and others to what is best in materials for young readers.

Merna Ann Hecht
Vashon, Washington

 

My first issue of The Horn Book was the May/June 2017 issue. I was pleasantly surprised by the tackling of political issues in the magazine. I admired your courage in criticizing the Trump administration and that you risked offending some of your readers in doing so.

I received my July/August issue a couple of days ago, and I see that you did indeed offend some people. Roger Sutton’s response to those letters further impressed me with its courage and integrity. Words cannot express my gratitude to you for standing up for what is right.

I find it amusing that Trump supporters are so easily offended given that Trump is so outspoken, doesn’t care about “political correctness,” and says the most vile things, all in the name of free speech.

I completely agree with Mr. Sutton when he says, “In Donald Trump we have a president who demonstrates neither care for nor interest in education, culture, or human rights, three things at the top of [The Horn Book’s] list. Of course we are going to follow our conscience and resist.” Thank you. We should all be very concerned, including the people who voted for him.

I paid for my subscription from my rather small library budget. I would gladly pay an additional amount to compensate for any loss of subscriptions due to your stance against Trump and what he stands for.

Leslie J. Kitchin
Fairbanks, Arkansas

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