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Report challenges to email@example.com We blog! ncacblog.wordpress.com We Tweet! @KidsRight2Read Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) helps students, parents, teachers and librarians fight efforts to ban books in their communities. A project of the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), it is cosponsored by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Call to Censor Anne Frank’s Diary Fails
Though it remains one of the most important narratives of the twentieth century, some find The Diary of Anne Frank disturbing. The discomfort is caused not by the depressing reality of hiding in an attic day after day for fear of discovery by the Nazis during the Holocaust…instead, it’s the sex. A Northville mother recently filed a formal complaint calling the book “pornographic” because of its sexual content. In particular, she cited Anne’s detailed description of her clitoris and vagina. The school district launched a reconsideration committee and officials remained quiet while the process was on-going. In a letter to the district, KRRP and six additional co-signers underlined the relevance and educational value of the book, including its anatomical descriptions. “Anne Frank’s diary is so valuable because it brings students into a world that is at turns very different from their own and extremely familiar,” KRRP told The Guardian. “Anne was in fear for her life every day in hiding but at the same time she was experiencing the changes every adolescent faces and her descriptions of those changes are real and important.” Rather than revert to the older, expurgated edition the committee decided to keep the book and issued a strong statement in support of the text and of the freedom to explore such issues. “The committee felt strongly that a decision to remove the use of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – The Definitive Edition as a choice within this larger unit of study would effectively impose situational censorship by eliminating the opportunity for the deeper study afforded by this edition,” Assistant Superintendent Robert Behnke wrote in a letter to parents and the community. Anne Frank's diary has been made available in a fuller version in the years since the death of her father, Otto Frank, who selectively curated the diary during his lifetime. Both the old and new editions have faced challenges in the past—all for sexual content.
Find out more at www.ncac.org and www.abffe.org Contact Acacia O’Connor, KRRP Coordinator @ 212-807-6222 / firstname.lastname@example.org / @KidsRight2Read
Working To Overturn Perks Ban in Glen Ellyn, Illinois
There was confusion in the room after members of the Glen Ellyn District 41 School Board voted. A discussion about a complaint regarding the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower ended in the book being banned, and even some board members were unsure how it had happened. Two parents of a middle school student in Glen Ellyn, filed a formal complaint about Perks despite the fact that their child had selected the book herself for group reading. When the parents objected to the book, an alternative assignment was readily offered. In its April 29 vote, the school board went patently against the recommendation of an ad-hoc committee of teachers, students and parents, who had already voted to keep the book. The discussion leading up to the ban centered largely not on censorship, but on better informing parents about what their child is reading. When the vote was taken, many thought the board was sending the conversation back to the committee, requesting a new recommendation about how to better communicate with parents.
Since the meeting, KRRP has been working behind the scenes with teachers, students, citizens and school officials in the district to not only overturn the ban, but to implement clear, strong policies which will prevent future censorship in the district. KRRP has shared a number of resources with the district superintendent and members of the board, including the National Council of Teachers of English rationale for teaching Stephen Chbosky’s popular coming-of-age novel. The students, teachers and parents of Glen Ellyn have been speaking up in defense of the book: “[W]e should be able to educate ourselves about topics such as sex, homosexuality, rape and depression which are discussed in this specific book. These are real issues that need to be taught to kids my age,” said 8th grader Nicole Clapp in a statement to the school board. We are optimistic that the Glen Ellyn school board will make things right and that, through our extensive outreach in the community, KRRP will have useful best-practice documents for confronting similar issues in the future.
Book Censors Recent Hit List:
• • • • • • Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie Batman: The Killing Game by Alan Moore Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow A Child Called It by Dave Peltzer Beloved by Toni Morrison
Kids’ Right to Read is a project of the National Coalition Against Censorship and American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. It is supported by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the Association of American Publishers.