I find it striking when other hot-button issues in my life pop up in the children's literature world, as happened today. I read a School Library Journal article by Rocco Staino about how children's author Lois Lowry "may be caught in the middle of an international storm between the United States and Turkey."
I had actually seen Lowry's blog post, in which she shares a letter from a teacher about the banning of Lowry's book Number the Stars by the Turkish Department of Education. However, I hadn't made the connection between that and another important issue in my home, the conflict between the US and Turkey over recognition of the Aremenian Genocide. This is a personal issue for me because Mheir, my husband, is Armenian. I've learned over the past 20 years how important this issue is to people of Armenian descent, and how the genocide continues to affect Armenians today, some 95 years after the events took place.
In his article, Staino says:
"Why would the Turkish government remove a modern classic that’s been taught in many school curricula? Lowry wonders if it’s connected to a recent move by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, which, despite protests from Turkey and urgings from the Obama administration not to offend its NATO ally, voted 23-22 to endorse a resolution on March 4 declaring the Ottoman-era killing of Armenians as genocide. The resolution now goes to the full House, where prospects for passage are uncertain.
Minutes after the vote, Turkey, which plays a pivotal role for U.S. interests in the Middle East and Afghanistan, recalled its ambassador, Namik Tan, from Washington.
“Turkey is a largely Islamic country,” says Lowry. “And although Number the Stars espouses no religious or political view, it does tell a true story of compassion toward persecuted Jews, and its unstated theme is clearly that of integrity and humanity between people of differing faiths. Perhaps that is a story that the Turkish government does not currently want told to children.”"
Fascinating. Do go and read the article. Lois Lowry's quote at the end is brilliant. I'll be interested to see what happens with this.