A recent decision by the Rocklin, California, Unified School District is proof that a single dissenting voice can help keep books on library shelves. Late last week, a district-wide review committee decided to keep Stephen King’s collection of novellas, Different Seasons, on high school library shelves. CBLDF joined the Kids Right to Read Project to defend the novel in a letter addressed to the school district.
Rocklin senior Amanda Wong was the sole student on the original committee that reviewed the novel after it was challenged for a rape scene in the novella “Apt Pupil.” She was also the sole dissenter in the initial decision to remove the book from library shelves throughout the district. She took her concerns over the censorship of the book to the school district, and her adamant defense of the title led Rocklin Unified Superintendent Kevin Brown to supersede the decision of the first review committee. Brown ruled that the the committee, which was comprised only of members representing Rocklin High School, could not make a decision for the entire district. He assembled a committee of representatives from throughout the district, and the second committee supported the unrestricted retention of the title on high school library shelves.
Most of the stories in the collection — “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Body,” and the challenged story “Apt Pupil” — are considered some of King’s best works and all three of these novellas have been made into critically-acclaimed major motion pictures (the second novella was the source material for Stand By Me). The book is shelved in the library and is not part of compulsory reading lists in the district. You can read the letter CBLDF sent in defense of the book here.
CBLDF applauds the decision by the Rocklin review committee to keep the book on school shelves. The ruling keeps one individual from infringing on the rights of others in the district, and the committee’s action both asserts the importance of the First Amendment and defends students’ right to read!