The news that Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere was under challenge in classrooms in Alamogordo, NM, caused local and national outcry. This week, the district announced that the book is “educationally suitable, balanced and age-appropriate” and that it would continue to be used.
On Friday, October 11, 2013, the news began to spread that Neil Gaiman’s 1996 book Neverwhere had been banned in Alamogordo Public Schools in New Mexico. While the book has not yet been banned, it is under challenge in the district and its use was suspended, halfway through the unit. The Kids’ Right to Read Project has written a letter cautioning against censoring the book and supporting the professional judgment of educators in the district.
Some educators in the district spoke out against the potential ban. English teacher Pam Thorpe told the Alamogordo News: “I cannot and will not condone the censorship this parent is promoting. The implication that we are careless or irresponsible simply is not true. Presenting challenging material of merit that may contain some foul language or mature situations, in a sensitive and academic manner, is part of our responsibility to our students in order to engage them in evaluating the human condition. I take that responsibility very seriously and strive every day to encourage my students to think … about the world, about their community, about their friends and about themselves. Censorship is the opposite of that.”
A parent in Alamogordo began a petition to have the book reinstated and for the district to revisit its policies. You can view it here.
Gaiman spoke to KRRP supporting organization, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, saying:
“I’m obviously disappointed that the parent in question didn’t talk to the teacher or accept the teacher’s offer of an alternative book for her daughter, and has instead worked to stop anyone else’s children reading a book that’s been in the school system successfully for almost a decade. On the other hand I’m impressed that this parent has managed to find sex and violence in Neverwhere that everyone else had somehow missed — including the entire city of Chicago, when they made Neverwhere the book that was read by adults and children alike all through the city in Spring 2011′s ONE BOOK ONE CHICAGO program.
But mostly I feel sorry for anyone excited enough by the banning to go to Neverwhere in search of “R-Rated” action. It’s a fine adventure, I think, with some sensible social points, and perhaps some good jokes and characters — but it’s very gentle stuff.”
KRRP Letter to Alamogordo Public Schools re: Neil Gaiman’s ‘Neverwhere’