I now have the specifics of the challenge to TWISTED in Montgomery High School in Mt. Sterling, KY.
It started as an effort to remove seven books. These were all options for literature circle reads. All seven were pulled from a teacher's classroom after a parent complained about the content of the books. The first six were pulled on August 24th.
The books in questions were:
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
A week later, Unwind, by Neal Shusterman, was added to the list.
Of those original seven books, the official challenge paperwork was only filed for three titles: Twisted, Lessons from a Dead Girl, and Unwind.
Many, many thanks to all of you who took the time to write to the school in support of the books. I suspect it made a big difference.
The people at the Kids' Right to Read Project wrote an awesome letter that cites case law explaining why this attempted banning was unconstitutional. You really want to read this, save a copy for your files, and get in touch with KRRP.
The challenge committee (six people) met last week. Here is the outcome:
Unwind, approved, 5-1
Twisted, approved, 4-2
Lessons from a Dead Girl, approved, 3-3 (tie broken by an assistant principal in favor of the book)
An appeal has been filed by the parent about Unwind. It seems that appeals were not filed for Twisted or Lessons from a Dead Girl.
Please note: as of yesterday, September 25, NONE of the originally challenged seven books had been returned to the teacher's classroom by the administration. None.
I think this is a cautious victory. I won't be surprised if there are more challenges coming from the parent or parents who spearheaded this one. I wish there was a way to help promote some conversation with them about their notion that books like these lead to dangerous behavior.
At the same time last week, Ellen Hopkins was dealing with her own book banning nightmare. A parent in Norman, OK who objects to Ellen's books was able to have Ellen's school visit there cancelled.
Ellen blogs about the background of the conflict. It did not seem to be covered widely in the American press. The UPI ran a story, but I don't know how many papers picked up on it. They were talking about the controversy in England, though. Though disinvited from the school, Ellen went through with her trip and spoke at a church in Moore, OK.
All of this in the week before Banned Books Week.
The number of attempts to remove books from schools and libraries is growing. This is not a thing of the past, sadly. It is a thing of today.
What do you say to people who believe that one parent can dictate curriculum? How can we talk to people who view books that reflect the realities of society as dangerous objects that need to hidden away?
Causes Laurie Anderson Supports
American Library Association