Update July 30: The school board has voted 6-1 to eliminate the entire summer reading list for incoming students at Cape Henlopen High School. Rather than reinstate Cameron Post, they will ” return to the district’s previous summer reading requirements, which demand college preparatory students read one book for the summer and honors students read two books,” according to Delmarva Now.
Update July 9: At its meeting on July 10, the Cape Henlopen school board voted to reconsider its decision to pull the book at its next meeting on July 24, and to commit to following its written policy for reviewing book challenges.
The Kids’ Right to Read Project as sent the below letter in response to the removal of Emily M. Danforth’s award-winning novel, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, from a summer reading list for college prep and honors classes at Cape Henlopen High School in Delaware. KRRP last wrote to Cape Henlopen in April when Brave New World was targeted.
The letter points out that the Cape Henlopen school board’s decision to remove the book violates district policies, which require a written complaint and a review committee to formally evaluate the book’s merits. Neither occurred in this case.
The board instead ignored its own policies and bypassed the required procedures, which are designed to ensure that decisions about the educational program are based on educational considerations and the needs of the entire student body, rather than on the views, values and preferences of board members or a few parents.
The YA novel was removed ostensibly because it contains profanity, even though other books on the summer reading list contain similar language. In addition, the letter notes that students could select from 10 books to fulfill their summer reading requirement, so no students were required to read this or any specific book.
“This school board’s hasty decision–one in clear violation of its own policies, and also one that overrules the careful work of the knowledgeable librarians who developed the Blue Hen reading list–has convinced me that its members need to be reading more books like The Miseducation of Cameron Post, not removing them”, said Cameron Post author Danforth, who has written about the incident on Huffington Post.
“Connecting with fictional characters who hold beliefs that are different from your own can inspire empathy, which, in turn, combats fear and intolerance, and since censorship is ultimately about attempting to silence the things that make us uncomfortable or fearful, it seems to me that this board would be better-served by assigning themselves the books on this reading list–all of them–than by trying to keep its students from reading them.”
The letter warns that removing a book in a situation such as this “may expose school districts to liability for infringing the First Amendment rights of students whose parents do not object”, and urges the school board to reinstate The Miseducation of Cameron Post to the reading list.