professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Here is one of the latest stories about censorship in the schools:

The book in question is THE MIDDLE SCHOOL SURVIVAL GUIDE by Arlene Erlbach. Here are a few quotes from the article that frighten me"

Behnke said the book received good reviews on book-selling websites.

“It does have a good review from the School Library Association,” she noted.

This is the voice of the school superintendent who agreed with the parent who brought the book to the meeting and asked that it be removed (it has been; this violates, I assume, the policy for reconsideration for the district). First, the super consulted online book reviews? I doubt it since the School Library Association is not a journal with which I am familiar. It was published in 2003 and received positive reviews from SLJ and Booklist who indicate a range from 5-8 grade as the audience. It is not listed at sites for lexiles and reading levels or even at Common Sense Media, however. In short, it is an older book. The article indicates other schools in the area do not have it as part of the collection.

When board members asked how the school district approved books, Behnke said the administration did not approve library books, just books used for curriculum. The district’s librarian was not available for comment.

Apparently, there is not a policy requiring approval for adding books to the collection as far as the superintendent knows. I am hoping, though, that she is mistaken. I am hoping that books are added to the collection in a thoughtful way.

Board member Harry Litwack said he was concerned about books that people donate to libraries and whether they are appropriate for children.

This comes out of left field in the article. It seems as though there is more going on here and that perhaps the board is worried about inappropriate books showing up as "donations" (and for the record, I do donate books to my local library that have been checked out and "lost" in censorship efforts).

I do not know this book. I do, however, know it touches one of those raw nerves when it comes to challenges and censorship: sex and sexuality. There is no word here about the kid who checked the book out. I acknowledge the parent's right to restrict reading for her child. However, this is not what is going on here. This is a parent who seeks to have the book removed and a school board who is willing to censor. It seems like small potatoes, really. But removing a book in such a manner is not small potatoes at all. It is he narrowing of access to books for kids. It has to be challenged.
Tags: censorship, speakloudly
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