Just an hour or so away from where I live, there’s yet another case of book banning in progress. A high school English teacher is under fire from some parents to change her reading list. Here’s a post from John Green (who has several books on said reading list) about it.
And here is the reading list in question:
Young Adult Fiction Elective Course (grades 10-12) Book List:
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Thinner Than Thou by Kit Reed
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Taken by Erin Bowman
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Will Grayson, will grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Paper Towns by John Green
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
To me, this list reads like a dream. Although I’ve always been a reader and even ended up majoring in English, I despised most of my high school English classes, in part because I had to read and discuss books that felt so far-removed from my life that I couldn’t relate. They bored me.
Now I’ve read nine of the books on this list – some as a youth and most much more recently – and each of those nine seems to me a whole lot more relevant and engaging to a high school-aged person than For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Furthermore, I can say with certainty that none of those nine are “profane, pornographic, violent, crass, crude, vile…” as the parents claimed. Some contained violence and profanity fitting the stories, but not more than what is readily available on TV and in video games. In fact, I’ve shared some of these books to my own high schooler.
I also have to wonder what these parents think they’re going to accomplish by challenging this teacher’s book list. If/when I manage to get published, I kinda sorta hope my book finds its way onto a banned/challenged book list. It’s a surefire way to raise interest and increase sales. Lord knows I’m chomping at the bit to get my grubby hands on those ten vile books I haven’t yet read.
Which leads me to wonder…. Maybe these parents are actually very smart. Maybe their kids resist reading, and they want to change that. Telling a teen – hell, telling anyone – he/she can’t do something is going to make them want to do that very thing…. Hmmm…. Crafty, parents. Very, very crafty. Hats off to you.
P.S. If like me, you want to express support for this Colorado teacher, here’s what John Green suggests:
“Please join me in emailing letters of support of the teacher at Strasburg who has heroically stood by her curriculum and stood alone at School Board meetings defending the books. It’s important to keep your letter as civil as possible, even if this kind of thing turns you into a giant squid of anger.
Letters should be addressed “To the School Board” and emailed to StrasburgYALiteratureCourse@gmail.com.”