Cape Gazette
http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/1200621

Board removes book from summer reading list

Brittingham: Language offensive for freshmen students
By Chris Flood | Jun 30, 2014
Source: www.emdanforth.com The Cape Henlopen school board voted June 12 to remove 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' from a list of books for high school freshmen to choose from to complete a summer reading assignment.

Lewes — Citing language deemed inappropriate for entering freshmen, Cape Henlopen school board has removed "The Miseducation of Cameron Post" from the district’s summer reading list.

The book was part of a 10-book list given to district middle school students entering high school in the fall and taking college prep and honors classes. The list, called the Blue Hen List, is a collection of books deemed age-appropriate by state librarians from across the state.

The board voted 6-1 in favor of removing the book from the list during its June 12 meeting. The issue was raised after parents examined the reading list and brought concerns to the board.

Cape Henlopen school board President Spencer Brittingham said after some research he came to the conclusion that the book was not appropriate for the targeted age group. The incoming freshmen are the most impressionable group at the high school, he said.

“It’s for a more mature level of student. A sophomore or junior,” said Brittingham.

Brittingham said no parent would want children of that age, 13 to 14, to be walking around the house using the language used in the book. He said he hadn’t read the book, but in passages found online the F-word was used four or five times, and that didn’t sit well.

“I knew in less than three minutes that this wasn’t a book I wanted on the list,” he said.

Written by Emily M. Danforth, the book is set in rural Montana in the early 1990s. The parents of the main character, a teenage girl named Cameron Post, die in a car accident before finding out she’s gay. Orphaned, the girl moves in with her old-fashioned grandmother and ultraconservative aunt Ruth; she falls in love with her best friend – a girl.

When Post is eventually outed, her aunt sends her to God’s Promise, a religious conversion camp the aunt believes will cure her homosexuality. At the camp, she comes face to face with the cost of denying her identity.

According to an Amazon.com review “the book is a powerful and widely acclaimed YA [young  adult] coming-of-age novel in the tradition of the classic, "Annie on My Mind."”

The book was a 2013 finalist for the William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award, which honors a book by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.

The book also made the 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults list put out by the Young Adult Library Services Association. According to the association’s website “the books, recommended for ages 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens.”

The summer assignment calls for college prep students to choose one book and honors students two books from the list, find an article in the news that makes a connection to the story and then write an essay linking the two. The task accounts for 10 percent of the first marking period grade.

The other books to choose from include "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green, "Butter" by Erin Jade Lange, "Daughter of Smoke & Bone" by Laini Taylor, "The Scorpio Races" by Maggie Stiefvater, "March" by John Lewis, "If You Find Me" by Emily Murdoch, "More Than This" by Patrick Ness, "Eleanor and Park" by Rainbow Powell and "Boxers" by Gene Luen Yang and Lark Pien.

Margie Cyr, Dover Public Library director and Delaware Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee chair, said the DLA is discouraged the book has been removed from the list. There were other choices; that book was simply one of the options, she said.

Cyr said the DLA encourages parents to participate, and it is appropriate for them to do so, but family choices are based on family values, and it is not appropriate for one family's values to dictate what's on the list and what isn't.

"It's a concern when other people dictate what should and should not be read," she said.

Cyr said the Blue Hen List is compiled of popular children's literature that's designed to encourage kids to read through the summer to maintain their skill level.

Board member Sandi Minard said language is the sole reason she voted in favor of removing the book from the list. She said she sat down with the parents who brought the issue to light and went over the parts of the book that were concerning.

Minard, who read passages from the book, but not the whole thing, said the book is full of the F-word. There are pages and pages, she said, of the F-word being used.

“It’s all throughout the book,” she said. “We’re asking students to refrain from that language when they’re in school, but there it is, right in front of them. That word is just offensive to a lot of people.”

Board Vice-President Roni Posner was the lone vote to keep the book on the list. She said she didn’t believe she had enough 21st century curriculum knowledge to judge what should or shouldn’t be on a reading list created by the state’s school librarians.

Posner hadn't read the book either; she said she read "Annie on My Mind" years ago. It's a coming of age novel, she said.

Brittingham and Minard made clear that the book was not banned from the high school’s library shelves, but they didn’t think having it on a summer reading list endorsed by the district was a good idea.

Brittingham said the intent is not to censor, but it’s the school board’s job to remain informed of the district’s programs and to make decisions in the best interest of the students when issues garner their attention. In this case, he said, the board didn’t feel it was a good idea to have the book on a list that it was indirectly supporting.

“The board gets the blame for all the good and the bad, mainly the bad, no matter what happens,” he said.

Cyr said she was aware of some parent concern over the book being on the list, but she was surprised to hear the school board took action. A lot of the time, said Cyr, when an action like this is taken, it blows up in a board's face.

"Now, I'm reading it, and I imagine a lot of people are going to be reading it to see what the issue is all about," she said.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Thomas Adams | Jun 30, 2014 12:21

Rowell’s  “Eleanor and Park” has over 60 instances of the f-word and its variants.  Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” contains many religious expletives, especially G*d*mn.  It also has 1 f-word.   Lange’s “Butter” has frequent vulgarities.  Or so I understand from a search of the Internet.

 

How ever did these three books from the summer list manage to get by the board—and especially ever-vigilant Sandi Minard?  All it takes is a cursory search of the Internet.  No effort really.   And no need to actually read the books in question before deciding to purge them from reading lists.



Posted by: Thomas Adams | Jul 02, 2014 09:35

Sandi Minard has taken to the airwaves!  On the Susan Monday Show, she claims the Gazette has got it wrong.  She did indeed read the entire book.

 

Susan Monday asked Minard how many parents complained to her.  Minard's answer:  3 complaints.

And as for the other books on the list that contain offensive language?  Minard claims no one complained about them so she took no action on them.

 

If she had, then the list presumably would have shrunk from 10 to 6.

 

www.delaware1059.com/features/sandi_edit.mp3

 



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