I just happened to be perusing our local Charleston newspaper, the Post and Courier today and found out that we're in the midst of our own potential book banning here in Charleston County schools...
At question is a book, The Hunt Club by local author Bret Lott
Here's a synopsis from Goodreads:
In this lyrically written, hauntingly seductive novel, Bret Lott brings to life the beauty and flavor of the mist-covered swamps and backlands of South Carolina's Lowcountry in a story that is both mystery and rite of passage.Here's my synopsis of the Post and Courier article:
At fifteen, Huger ("you say it YOU-gee") Dillard already knows a great deal about the ways of the world—or so he thinks. He may not have a father, but with the guidance of his blind "Unc," Leland, and weekends spent at the Hunt Club—a tract of woods and swamp belonging to his family—Huger knows all about the land and the habits of its wildlife, from deer to the pompous Charleston doctors and lawyers who come to hunt them. But nothing can prepare him for the dark events that begin to unfold when he and Unc stumble upon the body of a well-to-do Charleston regular on their land.
Who wanted him dead? And why is the Hunt Club suddenly at the heart of a dark secret worth killing for? Caught in a treacherous labyrinth that stretches deep into the past, Huger and everyone he loves are about to discover painful truths that will irrevocably change them; truths that will shatter a young boy's innocence and test him as a man.
One set of parents have taken it upon themselves to crusade against this book. They feel that the "book uses foul language, degrades women and people of color, and isn't appropriate to be on a recommended reading list for high school students."
Their fight was originally to have the book removed from a summer recommended reading list distributed at their school, but now the fight has gone so far up the food chain that when the school board meets, they will be deciding whether to completely remove the book from all reading lists AND all high school libraries.
The book has gone through two previous rounds of challenges - first being read by a group of teachers from the high school in question, then by a convened group of teachers, parents and media specialists, both of whom recommended leaving the book on the list, perhaps with a warning about language and content.
There's more info in the article, but that's the basic gist...
So now my take:
At some point, we have to prepare our children for the real world - people swear, there is bigotry, hatred and misogyny in the world - whether we like it or not. I personally think that by high school, students have the capacity to comprehend the difference between fiction and reality and also to extrapolate lessons and meaning behind words. Wrapping fifteen and sixteen year olds in cotton wool and protecting them from life's evils may make you as a parent feel better but they will have a rude awakening when they head out to college or the work world.
Books on a recommended reading list are suggestions that will help students stretch their mind over the summer and then discuss and present to their classmates - so it's an environment where they can voice their feelings and understanding of the book - in my humble opinion, one of the best places to discover that not everything is spun sugar and happy unicorns.
I harken back to a favorite quote that sum up my stance on this subject -
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King Jr.
The banning of books just to hide our heads in the sand is wrong on so many levels... opening the world of literature to students may open doors that surprise, shock or even disgust you but if it causes emotion, response or consideration you are better for having read it!
Another writer posted their take at Pluff Mud Mag and again I paraphrase: If you let your children watch PG-13 movies, you shouldn't have any problem with them reading material with language and mature subjects matter.
I really like that analogy - and wish I thought of it myself, but since I didn't - you should check out the rest of her article.
Please feel free to add your own two cents to this situation and please feel free to read my source material from the Post and Courier for everything that I know about this situation.