Case Study: SideScrollers

The video game-themed graphic novel Sidescrollers by Matthew Loux will be removed as an option on a Connecticut school district’s ninth grade summer reading list after a parent complained of profanity and sexual references in the book. The Enfield, Connecticut, Board of Education will also change its policy so that a board committee must approve the reading lists drawn up by schools.

Sidescrollers was chosen as one of the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens in 2008, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “wholesome…but still entertaining for young teens or those with a sense of humor.” It recounts the adventures of three teenaged slacker geeks who are roused to action when a female friend becomes romantically involved with loutish quarterback Dick. Along the way, the trio engages in mildly vulgar but realistic teenage banter and vandalizes Dick’s car with anatomically correct graffiti.

Enfield parent Christie Bosco claimed that her effort to have the book removed was “not a question of censorship,” even though it was not required reading and her son could simply choose a different book. It is unclear whether the Board of Education followed its own policy on Challenges to the Use of Educational Resources, which states in part that “no parent nor group of parents has the right to negate the use of educational resources for students other than his/her own child.” The policy document also states that challenged materials should be read and considered by a committee comprised of six teachers, two librarians, and one principal. Their duties include:

evaluating the resource for its strength, weakness, and value as a whole and not in part; the impact of the entire work being more important than the words, phrases, or incidents out of which it is made

District officials have not yet responded to requests for comment via Twitter and email.

Additional resources:

Using Graphic Novels in Education: SideScrollers

Download a PDF of the SideScrollers discussion guide here.

Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.