Friday, October 29, 2010

one book (hopefully) stays, one book's a maybe

Happy Friday!  Two new stories have come to my attention via ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom.  One in Appleton and one in Belleville, both regarding recent book challenges.  Each of these events is rather sad since in both cases, the parents decided that instead of simply opting their own children out of reading the books, they feel they need to push their parenting styles on all students.  The first is an article, written by Kathy Nufer on  A parent challenged the the book The Body of Christopher Creed:
Hash said she chose to opt-out her son from reading it in communication arts class last school year because of its "profanity, vulgarity, sexual slang, sexual references, sexual situations, underage drinking, computer hacking, breaking and entering," and other situations, but also felt compelled to take her complaint further to the building and district level.  "It disturbed me so much that I decided I would be doing a disservice to our students if I left it at that," she told the panel.
After listening to Hash and other presenters, and working through a checklist to determine whether the book fits the goals and objectives of the freshman curriculum, the panel recommended unanimously to School Supt. Lee Allinger that the book remain where it is.  Allinger, who attended Monday's session, said he will review the recommendation and let Hash know his decision soon.
Meanwhile, in Belleville, another of Chris Crutcher's novels, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, was challenged according to  The decision is still pending: "The process started in September and a decision has still not been made."  The mother made a statement, saying,
"I am just one mom that cares what her son is reading at school. This is a required book in a required class.... There is pornographic and other sexual content on several pages. There are at least 52 pages where the Lord's name is taken in vain or there are swear words and other vulgar words. Also characters "portrayed as Christians" are sometimes ridiculed or portrayed in a negative way. This would not be allowed if the characters were Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, or any other religion. This book is not required by the state of Wisconsin and is not being used at all Wisconsin schools. I believe the Belleville School District could choose a better book."
A school district committee made a decision supporting the book, but the mother appealed the decision.  The superintendent now says that he is currently reviewing the way that the book is being used in other schools and is hoping to make a decision soon: "Ultimately, the question is probably not 'good book, bad book.' It's probably a case of might we find something better. There's a 'maybe so' component, like maybe we can find something better."  Freese said he has more work to do before making a decision on the matter.

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