Monday, August 3, 2015

DISCUSSION: Some Girls Are Removed From Optional Reading List

Nothing offends me more or makes me madder than when a book gets banned or censored in any way. 
A high school in South Carolina had a summer reading assignment for incoming freshman enrolled in Honors English I. There were two books on this list: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers and Rikers High by Paul Volponi. After reading PART of Some Girls Are, one parent decided to complain.
This is what she had to say, “I’m not a prude for God’s sake and I understand that these are issues kids are facing – the drugs, the alcohol, the bullying – but there has to be a way to present it that’s not destructive to them. I get they’re trying to find something the kids are interested in, but this book is trash.” —Melanie MacDonald, West Ashley High School parent


Now when this one parent complained, the school board added a third option, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. But was that good enough? Nope. That parents made such a fuss because she didn't want any of the students to read this book. So the school board relented and replaced it with Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. 

Okay, so let's forget about the fact that this is a freaking amazing book that details issues all teenagers are facing today (read my review here). Here are a couple other issues I have:

  • This reading assignment had choices. There were TWO other books Ms. MacDonald's daughter could have chosen.
  • This was for an Honors English Class. Surely, these incoming freshmen were capable of understanding the material and having intelligent discussions about it. Also, these are issues that Ms. MacDonald's daughter will likely be faced with anyway. Couldn't reading this book be a great way to actually talk to her daughter about these things? 
  • I know this is easy to say because I don't have kids, but I don't believe in telling kids they can't read something. That being said, I do think every parent has a right to decide that for themselves. Why was it so important to Ms. MacDonald that the book be removed from the optional list completely? If I had a kid in that class, I wouldn't have a problem with my child reading that book. My issue isn't with Ms. MacDonald stopping her kid from reading that book. My issue is the fact that she took that choice away from every single other student and parent.
  • And what kind of school makes this kind of change because of one parental complaint? Come on South Carolina: grow some balls, for crying out loud.
  • Notice the book they replaced Some Girls Are with: Speak. This book is on the list of Top 100 Banned Books from 2000-2009. I do love that book as well, but that just seems weird to me anyway. 
This whole thing just makes me so mad.


Luckily, Kelly and Kimberly from Stacked Books have decided to do something about it. If you want to pay to send a copy of Some Girls Are to them, they are going to deliver them to the West Ashley High School in Charleston, South Carolina. They are coordinating their efforts with the Charleston County Public Library. The goal is to get as many copies of this book to students as possible and it costs very little. Click on their post here to find out more about how you can donate copies of this book. I love it when people take action against censorship!

How do you feel about this issue? 

24 comments :

  1. I haven't read this book but I still think it is ridiculous they took it off the reading list completely. I agree with all our points especialy if they are in Honors English they are smart kids anyways. And it is crap that one parent started this all. I do hope she realizes when you tell a kid not to do something it becomes a 100 times more likely they will want to. Thank for sharing this.

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    1. You are so right Grace. Telling them not to read something is going to have the opposite effect for sure.

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  2. Ugh. It's trash because it's a realistic portrayal of what's going on in the annals of our kids' schools? Give me a freaking break. Narrow minded, I tell ya.

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    1. Narrow minded is one phrase that comes to mind Joy. Crazy people.

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  3. It's too stupid when stuff like this happens. It makes me mad but in a way I bet it's counter productive, I know if I were a student there I'd be sure to read the book now!

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    1. Trish, me too! Hopefully those students will still read the book.

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  4. I'm a parent, and for now I can control what my son reads, but there will come a day when I won't. That's it. Take the leap. Trust that you have raised your kids well and that they'll use the material as a cautionary tale and not as a how-to manual. There's only so long you can keep up the policing anyway. Eventually, all baby birds leave the nest.

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    1. Very, very true Ramona. I can understand that type of control when the kids are younger, but when they get older, there has to be trust. And I would think most kids would be able to understand the lessons in this book.

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  5. I wrote one of my very first blog posts about the topic of censorship in schools. http://falconerslibrary.blogspot.com/2015/06/i-read-banned-books-but-can-i-let.html
    It makes me SO MAD. I agree 100% that not all kids are ready for all books, but that decision needs to be the parent's for their child, not for other people's kids. Thank you for letting us know what's going on and how to help!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by Wendy! I will check out that blog post.

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  6. Incompletely at a loss of words. Thank you for letting us know about this, I'll be sure to tweet this.

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    1. Thank you so much! It is so incredibly frustrating. I appreciate you getting the word out. :)

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  7. Wow wow wow. I had heard about this in passing of course but didn't know the whole story. The hell!? There are other books if you don't want your kid to read it! As a parent, I would be so irate that SOME OTHER MOM was effectively telling MY KID what to read. I would have that book reinstated into the curriculum so fast her damn head would spin. Not only that, but to call a book that you haven't even FINISHED "trash'?!?! Screw you, lady.

    And I CAN speak as a parent. If my daughter wanted to read it, I'd let her. If my son wanted to, same. Even a book I DO hate and think IS trashy (like say, 50 Shades) I wouldn't censor, because I think censoring doesn't do anyone a damn bit of good.

    Basically, this is why I don't want to ever have to deal with public schools, because of complete nonsense like this. Catering to close minded, uninformed people with apparently WAY too much time on their hands. I cannot deal, I have to go to bed. And read Some Girls Are, obviously!

    Thanks for posting this, I am going to check out that post and see what I can do about donating!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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    1. You are so right Shannon about everything!! 50 shades is a great example. I think it's trashy, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't be able to read it if they want to. And it would be great if this parent could have used this book as a way to start a conversation about these topics with her daughter. You can't shield them forever, especially in high school. And yes, you must read Some Girls Are. It is such a great book! :)

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  8. Such bull crap. This stuff pisses me off so bad. I haven't read that particular book, but I know Summers writes amazing realistic books that aren't all rainbows and unicorns. I love the ones I have read. I hope this prompts all the kids there to read it to see what the fuss is about.

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    1. Me too Christy, me too. I really think this is an important book for young people to read. It is a great book and yes, it is very realistic.

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  9. That is so ridiculous, it's so silly how some complaints can be taken so seriously. She's definitely trashing the book without the understanding! I mean what's the use of censoring teenagers when that's exactly what they are coping with? Gahhh. THanks for covering this Cynthia!

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    1. Thanks Jeann! It is outrageous for sure!

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  10. The fact that they replaced it with Speak is just hilarious - it's sad when one person's opinion can so affect policy. Sigh.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I know, Nicole. That is what is even worse. I mean, the fact that ONE parent was able to make this change for everyone is just crazy.

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  11. First, that is so epic, that people are putting together copies of the book to give out. That's awesome.

    Basically, I completely agree with you. Books should not, under any circumstance, be censored or banned! Like you said, if that one woman doesn't want her daughter to read it fine, but don't take it away from everyone else! What does she know? that book could seriously help someone in that class and she just ruined their opportunity. Obviously, this school is filled with pushovers if they're going to remove it from the optional list because of one complant. This is exactly the reason my mom took me out of public school when I was younger.

    Great discussion, Cynthia! =)

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    1. Thanks so much Shay! Taking you out of public school was probably a great decision by your mom. Sometimes these school boards are full of idiots and pushovers. Crazy.

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  12. It is crap like this that makes me want to yank my hair out. I will be reading this book for my Banned Book week pick, because TO HELLO WITH YOU, WOMAN.

    Last year I read The Glass Castle for my banned book pick, because a local school next to me asked the author to come speak, for free, at the school's book fair. AND THEN BANNED HER BOOK.

    These people are just beyond ridiculous. "I get to decide what EVERYONE reads! Because I am such a great parent!" Then they wonder why kids grow up to have such little compassion or any comprehension for the real world. Well, you CENSORED the world around them! What did you expect.

    Banned books make me so upset. Like, livid. Ugh.

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    1. Lyn, YES! I am glad you share my outrage. Banned Books are the WORST!!! I am so lucky that my parents trusted my reading decisions. I mean, I was reading Harlequin romance novels at 16 for crying out loud. And then when libraries and schools make the decision for EVERYONE that they can't read a book . . . well, that just makes me livid too. I haven't read The Glass Castle yet, but it has been on my TBR. Knowing that it was banned by that school just makes me want to read it even more.

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