We received some great news from Kentucky this morning: a reconsideration committee in Marion County voted to keep John Green’s highly acclaimed first novel Looking for Alaska on its high school shelves last night.
The book received a complaint from a parent who not only refused to let his child read the book, but determined it was "filth" and good for no one. Last night, librarians, parents, and students came out to the public meeting to support the novel, and the teacher who chose it for her class, Emily Veatch, delivered stellar remarks in support of the book, her own students, and the value of literature like Looking for Alaska:
When I taught Looking for Alaska with my seniors last semester and part of this semester, I saw reactions that every teacher hopes to see. I saw students who had previously claimed that they “hate to read” come into class asking “Do we GET to read today?” instead of, “Do we HAVE to read today?” I saw students who struggled to stay awake in class become more alert and engaged. I witnessed students asking to take books home so they could read ahead—and after finishing Looking for Alaska ahead of their classmates, picked up more John Green books to read on their own time. The class discussions became lively, interesting, and full of insight. Students were discussing how to make it through this “labyrinth” of life. They were contemplating their own purpose in this world, and learning how to work through grief.
She ended with a forceful call not to let minority opinion override all the other parents who put their faith in their children’s teachers and their choices of literature and curriculum based on their merit – the vast majority who said, “yes, please teach my child.” The reconsideration committee agreed.
You can read Emily’s full remarks here on the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom blog.
Bravo to Ms. Veatch and the Marion County community who stood up for the freedom to read.