KRRP Defends ‘The Bluest Eye’ Among Others in Latest Spate of Book Challenges

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School’s out for the summer, but there’s no vacation from book challenges. The Kids’ Right to Read Project is battling a handful of censorship cases…

 

  • In Adams County, CO, The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, has come under fire from a handful of parents. The book was taught this year to 11th grade students in Advanced Placement Language classes. In order to inform parents beforehand, a permission slip was sent home with information about the book and an alternate assignment was offered.

Notwithstanding the fact that their children were able to opt out and did so, a group of parents filed a complaint with the district, which KRRP obtained through a FOIA request (read it here). After reviewing the challenge, the district superintendent offered to create a special section of the course without the book next year. Still not enough, parents say, though their children opted out of the lesson. Meanwhile, a student petition to keep the book has garnered almost 1,200 signatures. 

The challenge will now be considered by the board of education and KRRP wrote a letter advising the board to retain the book, as "there is no basis for removing the book and doing sowould raise serious constitutional questions." Collaborating organizations NCTE and ASJA co-signed the letter, alongside NCAC partners the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the Association of American Publishers. 

 

  • In Sarasota, a local man has been leading a charge against Laurie Halse Anderson’s acclaimed novel Speak, calling the book child pornography. Speak tells the story of an incoming freshman outcast who was raped while drunk at a party but who cannot tell any of her friends or classmates. The book was being taught in 8th grade classrooms. In June, a chool committee met to review the book and determined that it was appropriate as long as an alternative selection was provided. 

In their decision, the committee of educators and media specialists wrote that they believed the book to be both appropriate and important for 8th grade as: 

"It provides our students with a guided, approach to think about some of the choices that will face many of them within ten weeks of 8th grade graduation, as they move into high school and are socializing with much older, more mature high school students.”

The complainants have appealed the decision and the issue will now be reviewed by a district level committee. Read our letter to the committee and to the department of Curriculum and Instruction here

 

  • Tenacious objectors is the summer trend: Parents in Athens, GA are now claiming they will continue to appeal in the challenge to …And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, a book about Mexican migrant workers by the father of Chicano literature, Tomas Rivera. So far, the challenge has been considered by the superintendent, who decided that a few swear words did not outweigh the overall value of the text and that, while it would no longer be required, it should continue to be used for supplemental reading. Dissatisfied with merely limiting the use of the book, the parents appealed to the school board, which voted to have the superintendent review his first decision. He did, and opted to leave it unchanged. Now, the parents will appeal to the state board of education. 

 

  • Even college reading lists are apparently fair game for would-be book banners. A conservative family group in South Carolina is criticizing the College of Charleston for its selection of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home as its summer read for incoming freshmen. Bechdel will also speak to students in October. The group called the choice of the book, which will be read by students who are legally adults in an educational setting of their own choosing, "shocking." Not shockingly, they object to overarching themes in the graphic novel, which deals with Bechdel’s own coming out as a lesbian as well as the death of her father, a closeted gay man. 

A spokesperson of the College told KRRP that they have no intention of removing the book and that, judging by responses from the public, they have the support of most people in the community.