Friday, October 22, 2010

We all knew it was coming

We all knew it was coming ever since the books became a hit only a short time ago.  The Hunger Games are now under fire in New Hampshire from a parent who objects to the story being read aloud to her daughter.  Lauren Barack wrote about it in an article for the School Library Journal on October 19th:
A New Hampshire parent has asked the Goffstown School Board to remove Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008) from her daughter's class, claiming that it gave her 11-year-old nightmares and could numb other students to the effects of violence.
I remember when I used to be afraid of dinosaurs and my grade 5 class was watching Jurassic Park during a class party.  I saw the opening sequence in which the guard gets eaten and was traumatized for a good two weeks.  My parents were concerned about me, but did they go to the school board and ask that every child be kept from watching scary movies?  No, because it's up to me and my parents to decide what kind of things frighten me and therefore it is up to us to decide what I should watch.  And my mom even watched Jurassic Park, so she knew what was going on.  In this case, however, the parents hasn't even bothered to read the book.  And she has decided to try and make everyone else follow her parenting style:

To censorship expert Pat Scales, the main concern is one parent attempting to set policy for the children of others. And this challenge, which comes on the heels of the American Library Association's (ALA) Banned Book Week, is a cautionary tale other parents should note, she adds.
"When a parent objects to a book being taught, a lot of school districts say a parent can take a child out," says Scales, a former school librarian and member of ALA's Intellectual Freedom Committee. "And a lot of parents have an objection because they say their child is being singled out. But you have already singled your child out. And no parent has a right to select the curriculum."
The principal has gathered a review committee, much like the committee which just finished reviewing Kaffir Boy in San Luis Obispo.  The committee has 30 days to review the book and report their findings.  This is being done even in the absence of a formal request for review from the parent.  This is all being done in good faith from the school.  They are not, however, bowing to the parent's wishes as has happened in some circumstances:
Although the school district requests that formal book challenges be handled by filling out a request for reconsideration form, LaSalle has yet to do so. To date, The Hunger Games is still being read in class, and LaSalle's daughter is removed from class during that time. Three copies of the book remain in the school library.
The article states that "Mrs. LaSalle asked what this book teaches students as far as honor, ethics, and morals. Mrs. LaSalle stated there is no lesson in this book except if you are a teenager and kill twenty-three other teenagers, you win the game and your family wins."  This parent has obviously never bothered to look at critical reviews or hear opinions from others because there is a lot about morals, and honor, and ethics in the book.  I'm hoping that the committee will see it the way Scales presented the argument in the quotations above, and that they will therefore keep the book in circulation at the school and in classrooms.


  1. My mom is the high school librarian in Goffstown (the challenge was at the middle school). She is also a fan of The Hunger Games series. She says that, as per usual, the challenge has increased interest in the already popular title - everyone wants to see what all the fuss is about. While I think there is room for readers to find The Hunger Games disturbing (isn't that largely the point?), I also think that the games are much more disturbing than the story's depiction of them and that Suzanne Collins does a wonderful job of creating a character who wins the games on her own terms.

  2. I completely agree. Just like with Sherman Alexie's book, this sort of situation brings more awareness to the existence of the novel and makes people want to read it for themselves. I just think it's sad how often parents want to blanket an entire school or school district with their own morality or judgment. *sigh*