On Monday, we reported on the Kids’ Right to Read Project’s response to a challenge in North Pocono High School against Laurie Halse Anderson’s book Speak. We have since learned North Pocono is not the only place in PA where Ms. Anderson’s writing may be censored. Her novel, Twisted, which tackles serious teenage concerns about sex, alcohol, grades and family in an honest and realistic way, is facing a challenge in Downingtown, PA after some parents objected to the sexual content in the book. In response, KRRP sent an official letter. Additionally, KRRP is joining Ms. Anderson in asking readers of Twisted and supporters of free speech to speak up in support of the right to read.
Also in Pennsylvania this week, KRRP is protesting Panther Valley Middle School’s new rating policy for books. This policy established to “prevent school violence” actually gives undeserved credence to the bogus argument that “the books made me do it,” suggesting students can escape responsibility for their actions by using books as excuse. In response KRRP sent this letter.
In the past individuals and groups who support free speech have responded in numerous ways to book bans and challenges, including by creating Facebook groups, petitions, organizing marches and ‘read-ins’ and tweeting to spread the word.
UPDATE: Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Twisted is also being challenged in Montgomery County High School in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. One parent objected to “inappropriate” content in her book as well as in Jo Knowles’ Lessons of a Dead Girl and Neal Shusterman’s Unwind. In response, KRRP sent an official letter.
Update: The Kids’ Right to Read Project is pleased to report that Twisted will not be removed from Downingtown West High School’s reading list after a decision was reached amicably through discussion between school officials and parents. Downingtown district followed policy in addressing the challenge to Twisted and is a model for how such incidents should be addressed.