Skip to comments.7 deadly books? Talk of ban hits burbs
Posted on 05/22/2006 12:11:31 PM PDT by Borges
A northwest suburban high school board member seeks to ban seven books from classroom use because she thinks the profanity, depiction of graphic sex, and drug and abortion references in the literature are inappropriate for teenagers.
Leslie Pinney admits she only read passages of the controversial selections, including Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and Toni Morrison's Beloved, which were on the American Library Association's 100 most challenged books list between 1990 and 2000.
But Pinney said perusing the questionable parts of the books made it clear they weren't suitable for children and should be taken off Township High School District 214's proposed required reading list next year. The district is based in Arlington Heights.
Pinney was particularly offended by the explicit tales of masturbation and teen sex in Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The popular novel, often described as a modern-day Catcher in the Rye, was among the ALA's top 10 most challenged books two years ago.
'Isn't there ... a higher level?'
"We talk about the steady diet of trans fat and sugar, and we know the result is obesity and diabetes. But what are we feeding the minds of our students? They're getting a steady diet of foul language, violence and sexuality outside the classroom by the media. But when it comes to the classroom, isn't there something of a higher level to feed the minds of our children?" Pinney asked.
Other books Pinney wants replaced are The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien; The Awakening by Kate Chopin; Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, and Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World.
Many of the texts have been used in the district's six main high schools before and were reviewed by the department heads before the lists were sent to the board for consideration.
"These aren't books someone just picked out of a bookstore one Saturday morning and said, 'Hey let's put them on the reading list.' These are books that have gone through the process and were selected for their educational value," Board President William Dussling said.
'It cannot hurt to be informed'
Dussling is willing to listen to Pinney's concerns when the board meets Thursday, but he doubts the books will be removed from the curriculum. The district has an "opt out" policy if parents don't want students to participate in an activity or read a certain book, he said.
Levitt, a University of Chicago economics professor, can understand why some people may be uncomfortable with his nonfiction best seller, which correlates legalized abortion with lower crime rates. However, he said banning it for ideological reasons does not make sense.
"The book does deal with controversial topics like abortion, crime, guns and race. But we aren't making moral statements in the book about whether abortion should or shouldn't be legal, or guns should or should not be regulated. Instead, we try to look at the data and understand what impact legalized abortion or gun control has had on crime. I would think that whatever conclusion one comes to on the morality of an issue like abortion, it cannot hurt to be informed about the facts," Levitt said.
There were 404 challenges or written requests to have a book removed from a school or library filed with the ALA last year. There were 11 challenges in Illinois in 2005, compared with 10 the year before, spokeswoman Larra Clark said.
I bet if it were graphic gay sex it'd be ok.
Edna Pontellier was a loose woman of low moral fibre, hardly a model for our youth. We should have them all reading Pamela.
How do you have graphic sex, anyway?
This is a board member. She certainly has a right to express her opinion about books that she doesn't think rise up to the level of quality reading for high-schoolers.
And that is not "book-burning." It is what a board member is supposed to do.
Just don't let them read the bible; they might be influenced!
with pie charts
Especially in a Book! I take it these are picture books.
The Song of Songs is absolute filth. I'm not saying we should ban the Bible, but we should definitely expurgate the offending portions, lest anything sexual reach the eyes of our impressional young ones.
I totally agree.
Trying to control what adults may or may not read is a whole other discussion...
My wife's a graphic designer. Does that count?
But you have to read a book about a homosexual king to kindergartners in Massachusetts, because "gay marriage" is legal there, and you have to celebrate diversity.
Seriously. If we're going to remove every non-fiction title that contains ideas which make someone or other uncomfortable, we might as well give up on the idea of a library altogether. Just put some blank sheets of paper and crayons in there, and forget about the whole "book" thing.
There are Plenty of Gay Kings to study in World History starting with James I.
Oh, of course. I try to celebrate diversity at least 3 times a week but it's starting to interfere with my work. My job is tough when I have a diversity hangover.
The Botany of Desire? How on earth can someone find a history of plants offensive?
Goodness, let's not expose students to any *ideas* in school.
And the name of the book is of course: The Holy Bible
The reason cited if you choose to speak to the librarian will be "Seperation of Church and State".
Meanwhile copies of the mormon bible and the koran are freely available upon request.
Wha tis it about freedom people hate? Don't read the books if you don't like them. Banning is never an answer to anything.
You're just saying that because you share the modernist obsession with plot, characters and good writing. Pamela is a great novel, plus it tells an important moral lesson -- when your boss is trying to rape you, you should resist as long as possible in order to preserve your honor. Then marry him.
Really? No high school has a right to remove any non-fiction book from it's curriculum?
What good has learning science ever done for a society?
Much as some on FR might wish it not be so, The Bell Curve is fiction.
Based on some of the high school students I have met recently, I would say that it is more important to get them to read books, any books, than to spend so much time criticizing certain books that may be in school libraries.
Does the age have something to due with the suitablity?
She wants them removed from classroom use, i.e, not ASSIGNED. The kids don't have a choice to not read the books. I agree with the earlier poster (forget who): as a school board member, reviewing the books assigned for reading is exactly what she's supposed to be doing. Good for her. I wonder how many of the other board members read any of them?
This isn't about "banning" books. It's about a school board member doing her job deciding what is appropriate for kids to read.
This reads like a Danielle Steele novel...
Your neck is like the tower of David built with rows of stones on which are hung a thousand shields... ... Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle which feed among the lilies... ... Your lips, my bride, drip honey, Honey and milk are under your tongue...And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. Your belly is like a heap of wheat...
This story is about a board member from one high school who objects to classroom usage of several books. That is, required reading and study of selected books.
Surely a board member has a right to voice an opinion about removing certain books from required reading in favor of more quality material.
Not even close.
Song of Solomon eats Steele for breakfast.
That's good stuff.
This is not a library. It is a reading list put out by the school district.
I oppose censorship. This isn't it.
Yeah. Very graphic. Maybe JimRob should pull it because it is so offensive.
What is inappropriate about Freakonomics or The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World?
Somebody just like this councilwoman banned Huck Finn, and more importantly, The Little Engine That Could. So where do we redraw the line that was made the day Larry Flynt won and we all lost?
I don't know.
Maybe you can read both, interview this lady and report back to us.
Banned from where? This is a reading list.
I oppose censorship. I support schools deciding what they should recommend for reading and also what they have in their libraries.
The Bible can be found in just about any Public library.
THIS IS ONE BOARD MEMBER AT ONE HIGH SCHOOL SAYING SHE DOES NOT LIKE THE BOOKS IN THE CURRICULUM. VOICING OPINIONS ABOUT THIS IS HER JOB.
DO NOT KNEE-JERK. THIS IS NOT GOVERNMENT BANNING OR CENSORSHIP.
Billy Pilgrim and Tralfamadorian bump
But did any of the other board members read any at all? I think the only one on that list I've even started was Slaughterhouse-5, and I didn't finish it.
You must be one of those perverts who doesn't think sex is evil.
I think we are wasting our time, Protagoras.
Some people see "removed from reading list" and have the Pavlovian response: "CENSORSHIP! CENSORSHIP! They'll ban Huck Finn next! And then The Wizard of Oz! Then, they'll control everything we read! Book burners! Naziiiiiiiiiiiiss!!"