Update: Another victory for KRRP! Last night, the board voted 3-2 to reinstate the book to middle school libraries. Read more about the decision here.
In October, CA’s Riverside Unified School District raised some eyebrows when a review committee decided to yank John Green’s acclaimed The Fault in Our Stars from the district’s middle school libraries. The reason? Age-appropriateness; the committee, in a 6-1 vote, decided it wasn’t proper for middle school students to read about such hard-hitting themes as mortality and sex. What’s more curious, however, is the fact that the school board had no say at all in the book’s ban. The district’s policy for reconsideration of challenged materials did not require board sign-off on any committee decisions.
After receiving letters from both NCAC and the ACLU of Southern California, RUSD decided to amend its policies to require the board to approve any decisions of the review committees. Tonight, they’ll be meeting to reconsider the removal of the books from middle school libraries. Our friends from the ACLU of Southern California will be in attendance at the meeting to remind the board of their Constitutional and educational obligations; they’ve blogged about the case here.
In this letter, NCAC is joined by ABFFE, AAP, CBLDF, PEN, SCBWI, and NCTE in reminding the board of the First Amendment and educational repercussions of the removal of a book, especially on spurious grounds of “age-appropriateness”. Indeed, the letter opines that the removal of the book takes away the choice of students to read themselves, arguing that “[n]o book is right for every student, and not all students would choose to read The Fault in Our Stars. … The library is there precisely to allow students to have a choice of reading options … They should have that opportunity.”
As such, NCAC and the letter’s co-signatories are interested in seeing the book’s reinstatement to middle school libraries in the district, a resolution that would respect the rights of both those students who are not interested in reading the book or whose parents do not want them to read it and the rights of other students, who would read the book with their parents’ blessing.