When I saw the ebook Do I Dare Disturb the Universe by Madeleine L'Engle on Amazon.com, I had to have it. It contains the text of a speech Madeleine L'Engle gave about different types of censorship and the responsibility of writers of children's literature to ask good questions and be faithful to the truth of things.
On censorship, I agree with the author that we all censor to some degree, just by choosing one book over another. But we are choosing for ourselves and our families, not for the entire community, not attempting to use the police power of the state to control what others have access to.
Books give us the opportunity to explore new experiences and ideas without leaving the safety of home, or the comfort and counsel of our friends and family. Books ask us questions we never knew needed asking, and quite often they leave us without any answers. Ain't that the way it's supposed to be?
I also enjoyed reading her introduction to A Wrinkle in Time, giving us a glimpse into the ideas behind the story, and surprising me with the number of rejection slips she received from publishers who didn't understand the story, or felt that it was too hard for children.
When have children's stories ever been just sunshine and puppies? There has always been death and pain, the face of evil, betrayal and hardship, in children's literature. Hansel and Gretel anyone? Through stories we can introduce and prepare our children for realities they've yet to experience, or to offer perspective and comfort to them when they have had their first taste of bitter tears.
The e-book finishes with a scanned copy of the original manuscript of A Wrinkle in Time. It was interesting to try to understand the word choices and edits that mark the pages. Little is more fascinating to me than the writing process, and it was a pleasure to see a bit of that from the author of a much beloved children's book.
I highly recommend Do I Dare Disturb the Universe? to anyone interested in the topic of children's literature and censorship.