This week, CBLDF-sponsored Kids’ Right to Read Project sent two letters on behalf of challenged books: One defends the use of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in schools in Colorado, and the second defends Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, which is being challenged in Florida.
The Bluest Eye, which is one of the most frequently challenged books of the past decade is under fire in Adams County, Colorado, where a small group of parents launched an online petition asking their school district to remove The Bluest Eye and other unidentified books from high school reading lists. The Bluest Eye is being used in advanced placement English classes in the Adams 12 Five Star School District. The book deals with difficult issues, including rape and incest, and students have the option of completing an alternate assignment. The parents who want The Bluest Eye removed from classrooms have called for outright censorship. It has been called “trash literature,” and another parent claimed that “[r]eading about this could promote [rape] instead of preventing it.” Current and former students from the district started their own petition to retain the challenged books
The full text of the KRRP letter in defense of The Bluest Eye follows:
In June, Laurel Nokomis School in Sarasota County, Florida, convened a committee of teachers, education professionals, and more to determine the fate of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, which was being used in an 8th grade gifted language arts classroom. The board retained the book, but a “watchdog” blogger in Florida recently caught wind of the challenge and decried the decision, calling the book child pornography.
Speak was challenged by a parent in the district for “profanity, subject matter, graphic depiction of rape, alcohol.” Based on the complaint form, the parent argued that the book would cause “Embarrassment, neg. thoughts, ridicule having a negative mental and social impact,” and further indicated the book was not appropriate for 8th grade students. He wanted the book withdrawn from all students, not just his child.
The full text of KRRP’s letter follows: