In 2009, Ellen Hopkins was scheduled to speak at Whittier Middle School in Norman Oklahoma. However, a parent filed a materials reconsideration complaint concerning one of her books, Glass. Because of that, the administration chose to cancel her visit to the school, since her book was taken off shelves while under reconsideration by a committee.
I was disappointed and felt completely let down by the entire situation. It was a knee jerk reaction to cancel Ellen’s speaking engagement. The student should have been asked to skip the speaking engagement instead of canceling it for everyone.-Karin Perry, former Whittier librarian
Without the cooperation of the school, Ellen Hopkins agreed to speak at the Free Will Baptist College in Moore, Oklahoma instead. Karin Perry stated that she thought Hopkins was extremely nice and understanding about the entire process. However, the day after her visit was rescheduled, she posted a blog entitled “Manifesto!!!!!“
Here, she detailed how upset the parent challenge and subsequent decision by the school made her. She states, “NO ONE PERSON should be able to tell other people what their children can or can’t read.” She ended the blog post with the last stanza of a poem she was asked to write by Simon & Schuster in support of Banned Book Week:
– Ellen Hopkins, Manifesto
Torch every book.
Burn every page.
Char every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.
Local news stations heavily covered the controversy (The Oklahoman). Not only was it significant because of the canceled visit, but also, according to Perry, parent complaints about books are rare in Norman. In five years at Whittier Middle School, she only dealt with the one case.
Ellen Hopkins did speak in Moore, and all of the students who bought books to be signed by her got them signed. However, the decision by the school caused a significant upset. Canceling her visit was censorship, even though the committee ultimately decided to not take the book out of the library.
Learn more about the case:
Timeline of Events:
Timeline image credits:
Cover of True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries (American Library Association, 2012). Ala.org.
Hopkins, Ellen. Ellen Hopkins. https://ellenhopkins.livejournal.com/, 2008.
Moore, Larry D. “Ellen Hopkins 2011.” Wikimedia Commons, 22 Oct. 2011.
Newspaper clippings used with permission from The Daily Oklahoman and obtained from Newspapers.com.
Ogle, Kelly. “My Two Cents (screenshot)” News9.com.
Photo of Randall University (formerly Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College) Okfwb.org.
Radspunk, “Crystal Meth.” Wikimedia Commons, 30 Jan. 2008.