UPDATE: Good news! The board voted 5-0 to retain the book.
NCAC's Kids' Right to Read Project (KRRP) is urging the school board in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho to reject an ad hoc committee's recommendation that Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake should be excluded from a high school reading list.
An English teacher at Lake City High School submitted the award-winning novel for inclusion for 12th graders based on the work's pedagogical value, as well the need to include more contemporary American works on the list. But the Ad Hoc Curriculum Committee for High School Literature voted in October to reject the title for whole group instruction, citing sex scenes that some considered too explicit.
The board will meet December 7 to determine whether to accept the ad hoc committee's 4-2 vote. The NCAC letter, signed by American Booksellers for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Council of Teachers of English, and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, reminds them that decisions should be made on educational grounds. It points out that
school officials are bound by a constitutional duty not to suppress unpopular, controversial, or “objectionable” ideas. Making a decision based on the unquestionable pedagogical merit of the book, rather than on objections to isolated passages, is consistent with recognized educational principles, ensures that constitutional principles are maintained in the district, and is in the best interests of the Coeur d’Alene School District and its students.
The same district was embroiled in a censorship battle earlier this year, when the ad hoc committee voted to demote John Steinbeck's classic Of Mice and Men, removing it from whole group instruction due to its "dark themes" and profanity. The board sensibly rejected that recommendation; NCAC hopes they will do the same with The Namesake.
Read the full letter below; click here for a full-screen view.
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