Put parents in charge of their child’s book choices

July 15, 2014

Cape Henlopen school board’s decision to remove a book from a summer reading list has had exactly the backlash a school librarian predicted: The book is flying off local shelves, and people nationwide are sending copies to a local bookstore for free distribution to any teen who asks for it.

The controversy centers on whether the book was taken off the list because it contains profanity, as board members insist, or because it describes a lesbian relationship, as the author writes in a letter to the board.

One parent pointed out the Aldous Huxley classic “Brave New World” came under fire earlier this year. In that case, a committee reviewed the book and deemed it appropriate; if a parent objects to it, another book may be substituted.

In the current case, no one who voted to take “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” off the list had even read the book; weeks later, no one seems to know why the district chose the Blue Hen list as the basis of its ninth-grade summer reading assignment.

A list of current, young adult fiction, the Blue Hen list aims to encourage reading, but it’s certainly not clear why Cape would choose a list that contains several books with profane or coarse language.

Even less clear is why parents complained only about profanity in a book about a lesbian relationship, when other books on the list use similar language.

The school board should most certainly have a say as to whether a book is appropriate, but should the objections of a few be enough to cross a book off the list?

That is a recipe for a bland and unchallenging reading list, just the opposite of what Cape students need and deserve. Removing a book from a recommended list requires far more serious consideration.

Instead of taking a book off the list, Cape officials should inform parents which books contain coarse language.

Let parents decide which books their children should read.

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Laura Ritter, news editor, and Dennis Forney, publisher, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.