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.
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