Book challenge catch-up: Highland Park, TX & Riverside, CA.
You've likely already read about these situations elsewhere, but as I was offline last week, I figured I'd round up some of the applicable links!
Highland Park, TX: Despite the use of permission slips and the offer of alternate assignments, Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain was removed from tenth-grade classrooms (and students' hands mid-assignment) because of parental complaints that students "should not be exposed to some of the hardships and controversies of adulthood".
Also removed the school's "approved book list" were:
The Working Poor: Invisible in America, by David K. Shipler
Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
The Glass Castle: A Memoir, by Jeannette Walls
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
But THEN, due to a bunch of national attention and a HUUUUUUGE outcry from other parents and alumni, the superintendent reversed the suspension:
“I made the decision [to suspend the books] in an attempt to de-escalate the conflict, and I readily admit that it had the opposite effect,” he said in an email to parents. “I take full responsibility for the decision, and I apologize for the disruption it has caused.
“All the titles that were temporarily suspended will be restored to the approved reading list,” he said.
Currently, the only title on the list facing a formal challenge is The Art of Racing in the Rain.
Riverside, CA: Following a 6-1 vote by a reconsideration committee,The Fault in Our Stars has been removed from the Frank Augustus Miller Middle School library in the Riverside Unified School District:
Krueger said she didn’t want to “come off as a prude” or block anyone’s freedom to read. But she questioned whether the book should be available at the middle school library because the subject matter involves teens dying of cancer who use crude language and have sex.
“I just didn't think it was appropriate for an 11-, 12-, 13-year-old to read,” she said. “I was really shocked it was in a middle school.”
Yes. As we all know, the best way to avoid "blocking anyone's freedom to read" is to request for books that you deem inappropriate to be yanked from library shelves.
I am happy because apparently young people in Riverside, California will never witness or experience mortality since they won’t be reading my book, which is great for them.
All the cited books remain in the library, and the city council took no formal action. However, council members declined to recognize Banned Books Week: A resolution had been prepared, but Mayor Niki Coats declined to sign it, saying, “It is unfair that the banned book week falls on this week.”
Related: Two book challenge updates.