Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Ruckus divides Montgomery County residents

This from Jim Warren at the Herald-Leader:
A dispute over books at Montgomery County High School has embroiled parents, teachers, students and others over the past several months, extending to authors and censorship groups at the national level.

The continuing ruckus revolves around contemporary, young-adult novels that have been used in conjunction with classical works like The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer and the epic poem Beowulf in some sophomore and senior accelerated English classes.

Some parents have complained that the novels contain foul language and cover topics — including sex, child abuse, suicide and drug abuse — unsuited for discussion in coed high school classes. They also contend that the books don't provide the intellectual challenge and rigor that students need in college preparatory classes.

Montgomery County School Superintendent Daniel Freeman has responded by withdrawing about half a dozen of the challenged titles from classroom use.
However, students can still find them in the high school library, and they remain available through a student book club...
The parents' complaints were not stated in religious terms, as sometimes can be the case. It's a good thing. Because if books were banned based on the concerns listed it would pretty much eliminate the Bible. H-L Columnist Paul Prather said it rather well:

A group of parents protested the books — which weren't required reading, but were available for students who chose to read them — on the grounds they were morally unfit for high school students. The novels apparently portray teenagers who are struggling with dysfunctional families, sexual desire and thoughts of suicide.

Dysfunctional families? Teen sex? Suicide?

I initially assumed the parents were trying to ban Romeo and Juliet. Or the Bible.

Jessamine County book banners, Sharon Cook and Beth Boisvert were recently fired for withholding books from circulation that they found objectionable.

The books being challenged in Montgomery County include:

The titles appeared on suggested book lists compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, for 12- to18-year-olds who are "reluctant readers."

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