Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Are Some Books Wrong for Students?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Are Some Books Wrong for Students?

Article excerpt

The old debate on censorship is taking place in the Duval County public schools.

Several citizens protested the use of two new books added to the third-grade reading list: "Nasreen's Secret School" and "The Librarian of Basra," both said to be based on true stories from the Middle East.

The school district already prohibits books from school libraries.

So we asked members of our Email Interactive Group, many with educational credentials, for their opinions.

Any reasonable reasons for banning books from the public schools?

NOT SO YOUNG

To permit a third-grade reading curriculum to include books like "Nasreen's Secret School" and "The Librarian of Basra" is definitely inappropriate. I certainly do not want my 8-year-old granddaughter to read about war and drama in the Middle East at this time in her life.

Maybe in middle school or high school but not at this level of education. Who would want their child to read such things at 8 years old? C'mon. Our school district's leaders must be smarter than that!

Goodness, they haven't learned the basics of America yet, and now we are plunging into Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly, the books should be on bookshelves in the library but not as part of a third-grade curriculum. What are we doing to our children? This is flat out nuts!

Anne Shumaker, Jacksonville

AN OPEN-MINDED POLICY

Students should be able to read practically anything in a school or public library for two reasons: First, the "reading muscle" needs to be exercised.

It doesn't matter whether the material is light or serious.

Particularly if students want to write one day, their reading needs to feature a healthy variety. Also books only get into a school or public library after they have been vetted by the library staff, and they nearly always make reasonable decisions.

Librarians at elementary schools will make decisions about purchasing age-appropriate material.

Howard Denson, Jacksonville

A SLIPPERY SLOPE

As a former elementary school librarian for Duval County Schools, I agree with Superintendent Nikolai Vitti that it is a slippery slope when we start banning books. Foremost, school professionals are knowledgeable regarding what is appropriate content for the age population of students, assessing non-mature content and reading levels.

Parents have every right to guide what books their children read and are free to choose alternative books on the reading list if the books do not coincide with their beliefs.

However, accepting that the world, and even Jacksonville, is made up of diverse populations helps ready students for life beyond school.

Do we want students who understand diversity? The answer is yes.

Paula Nietling, Jacksonville

VIEW OF TEACHER, VETERAN

As a former social studies and American and world literature teacher and combat veteran, understanding the culture and history of nations where we deploy troops to fight and die is valuable. …

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