CBLDF has joined the Kids’ Right to Read Project in defending Jeannette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle, from a challenge in Marshfield, Wisconsin.
CBLDF is a sponsor of KRRP. CBLDF joins coalition efforts to protect the freedom to read comics. Censorship manifests in many ways, and the unique visual nature of comics makes them more prone to censorship than other types of books. Taking an active stand against all instances of censorship curbs precedent that could adversely affect the rights upon which comics readers depend.
Walls’ book about her impoverished childhood is a popular choice in high school curricula, but also a frequently challenged one. At last week’s meeting of the Marshfield Board of Education, parent Dan Alsides asked that the book be removed because high school students “deserve better” than a book he describes as “full of foul language, and explicit and disturbing materials.” A representative from the school district said that Alsides’ complaints about the book included “language and ideas put forth in the book by someone with addictions and mental illness.”
The KRRP letter reminds district administrators ” that students will benefit from discussing poverty, hunger, bullying, assault, alcoholism, and the other themes discussed in The Glass Castle,” and that the removal of the book could set a dangerous precedent, undermining education and inviting further parental complaints about materials in the curriculum.
In accordance with its challenge policy, the Marshfield School District will form a review committee to read the book and recommend a course of action to the superintendent. Once a review committee is formed, members have only seven days to read the book and agree on a recommendation to send to the district superintendent, who in turn may take action herself or recommend a course of action to the school board. If Alsides is unsatisfied with the superintendent’s decision, he may appeal it to the board as well.
Marshfield’s challenge policy states that the book is to remain in the curriculum during the review process; moreover, it can only be removed altogether by a vote of the board, not unilaterally by the superintendent. Finally, the policy includes a clause that will likely prove crucial in defense of The Glass Castle:
[N]o challenged material may be removed solely because it presents ideas that may be unpopular or offensive to some. Any Board action to remove material will be accompanied by the Board’s statement of its reasons for the removal.
You can read KRRP’s letter in defense of The Glass Castle in its entirety below.