A school board member and parent in Fishers, Indiana is pushing for Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner to be removed from Hamilton Southeastern Schools’ AP Literature and Composition curriculum after her daughter was assigned to read it over the summer. Amanda Shera says she is not satisfied with the existing option for students to request an alternate book because their classmates will know they “have the moms that are the prudes.”
Hosseini’s novel is set in Afghanistan during the years spanning the Soviet invasion and the rise of the Taliban. The book has previously been challenged and retained in Waukesha, Wisconsin and Asheville, North Carolina due to an early scene in which main character Amir is raped by an older boy. Most recently, administrators of Higley Unified School District in Gilbert, Arizona abruptly removed it from the curriculum for Honors English 10 mid-school year, claiming that it had never officially been approved for classroom use in the first place.
Shera also objects to the traumatic passage describing the assault on Amir, saying at a board meeting last week that she is “embarrassed that my child had to read it” and that her daughter posed an unspecified question of a “graphic” nature after reading the book. In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, she said she is “very protective of my kids…because I grew up in insanity, and I just want them to have a sweet, proper life.”
Shera also objected to the fact that some adults in the book are portrayed as untrustworthy, a behavior that she feels is too common in the literary works assigned to students. She says she sent a letter of complaint to the English Department at Fishers High School, since board members are barred from contacting individual teachers directly, but has not heard back. A spokesperson for the district said last week that the high school had not received a request to remove the book, presumably meaning that Shera had not submitted the required Request for Review of Instructional Materials form along with her letter.
By all appearances, it seems that the district intends to observe its challenge policy in this case, meaning it’s somewhat unlikely that the critically acclaimed novel will actually be removed from the college-level AP class. College Board, the organization that develops the AP curriculum framework, does not suggest or require specific titles that students will read; however, a spokesperson pointed out that The Kite Runner was referenced on last year’s AP Literature and Composition exam.
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.