Monday, October 6, 2008

Politics, Children's Literature Blogs, and Lois Lowry

Each morning I anxiously click through all of the new blog posts on children's literature brought to my attention by my blog reader. I really enjoy the insight, perspective, news and events on children books and related topics the various book bloggers provide. However, since the presidential election has swung into high gear, I have started approaching my blog reader a little more tentatively each day since more and more bloggers are posting about their political views in addition to children's literature. I understand. Blogs are web logs--online journals--and no one takes an oath prior to starting a blog stating that they will stick to a particular topic. So, yesterday, when I read Lois Lowery's blog on which she discussed who she thinks should win the election and why, I cringed. Not Lois, too.

You see, I am a huge Lois Lowry admirer. In addition to reading her books, I have heard her speak at least a dozen times. Most of the time, I cry before she reaches the end of her presentation. I will never forget hearing her speak at a NCTE breakfast many years ago in which she told the story of how her son died. I cried so hard I couldn't talk afterward. A few years ago, she gave a presentation in Richmond titled, How Everything Turns Away, in which I took my son. This time, I learned about her connection to Allen Say. We both cried. In May, I heard Lois speak in Newport News about how she came to write Number the Stars. In her speeches, like her books, she weaves a story in such a way that deeply connects the listener to not only herself but to the other people in the room. After listening, I feel like I know her and I trust her to take me on an emotional journey because I know I will be a richer person on the other side.

Later in the day, after posting on her blog about her political views, Lois posted again stating that people sent comments indicating that she should keep her political views to herself. This really started me thinking about why I felt so reticent about Lois and other bloggers making political posts. I do not share my political views with my college students. I believe teachers in general typically do not share their political views with their students. We come together every class day to learn about how to assist children on their literacy journey to becoming lifelong readers, writers, and thinkers. In this common goal, we completely trust each other. My students trust that I am providing them with the very best the field of literacy has to offer and I trust my students to put forth their very best effort to learn and engage with this information. If I were to share my political views with my students and they were to disagree, would this break their trust in me...even to a degree? A person's political views hit at the very heart of who they are...views about such issues as abortion, health care, economics...

If I learn that Lois Lowery and other book bloggers do not agree with me politically, does that break my trust in them? There is one thing I know about Lois and that is that she believes it is important for people to question their own beliefs and values everyday and to teach their children to do the same. Indeed, there was one aspect of Lois' blog post that I thought about all day. I even talked about it with different groups of people I came in contact with throughout the day. If reading the occasional post on the political views of other bloggers engages me in confirming or questioning my own political views, then I'm a richer person for it. So once again, Lois has taken me on a journey for which I am thankful. As the election comes closer, it is likely that the political posts will become more frequent. But, I would like to think that in a way, they can connect us rather than divides us.

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