Thursday, February 9, 2012

Decisions, decisions

As I have been reading for my literature classes this semester I have suddenly realized what a BIG decision it is trying to decided what texts to use in the classroom and what books are appropriate for each grade level. Some things, especially in today's books just seem so powerful and not age appropriate for specific grade levels. Reading for my YAL class in particular this thought crossed my mind. The first book we read was Freak the Mighty, which involves some crime, the topic of murder, and death. This was not my first time reading the book, I actually read it in my 7th grade reading class. During a class discussion yesterday, some students said they didn't think they would teach this in their classroom because some of the things were a little too heavy for teens to handle. I, on the other hand, could see myself teaching this in the classroom, maybe because it was a book I had read at an early age. I then thought to myself- murder and crime isn't anything new to teenagers, they see it on television, online, and even in video games. And death is something we will all have to face in our lives at some point, so I really do not see this book as being controversial at all. The second book we are reading for YAL, Breathing Underwater, seems a bit controversial as well. It deals with themes of abuse and violence. This book I see as being a bit more controversial and inappropriate for certain age groups. I thought to myself while reading it, that a lot of the stuff in it was really HEAVY, maybe a bit to inappropriate for middle schoolers, but high school students should be able to handle it. This reminds me of something my college writing professor told me, she said that there were parents complaining that the parents of her college students were upset that their children were reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because the book talks about sex and drugs. If their children haven't learned about sex and drugs or encountered them in real life or on television, I don't know what world they are living in because it sure isn't this one! This all made me reflect on the decisions I will have to make once I become a teacher, and I have realized that students are (for the most part) mature enough to handle the situations that occur in these books.

This website lists some books schools view as controversial: on it are some books I read in school, and others I have read outside of school which really shocked me.
  • The Chocolate was (read in 8th grade)
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The House on Mango Street
  • The Joy Luck Club (read in 10th grade)
What some people view as controversial, may not be CONTROVERSIAL at all..



  1. I definitely agree with your point. Some books people (parents especially) view as inappropriate are in fact not inappropriate at all. While there are certain lines that shouldn't be crossed, I certainly agree that at a high school level students should have already been exposed to these sorts of things. Also, it does really depend on the maturity level of a particular class. As I mentioned briefly in one of my posts, I observed in an 8th grade classroom of students who have gone through many life experiences at a young age. The book the teacher chose to read with them may have been viewed as inappropriate to some, but really got them engaged because they could relate. Great post!

  2. I understand that sometimes, parents freak out about what their kids are reading in school, and to me, that at least shows that there are parents out there who still care. Even though I am not a parent, I know that eventually, you have to let go and allow your child to learn about the world through many different types of medias. I read The Great Gatsby and The Joy Luck Club in high school, and I read Breathing Underwater and Freak the Mighty with Dr. Balok last year, and I can see how certain issues can concern parents, but if a parent agrees to learn alongside their child, it would make things easier. I am surprised that The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants made that list, though. I only thought the last three had some issues, especially the fourth one with Tibby and her pregnancy scare, but by that time, the girls had grown up.

    I have a cool picture that I have saved to my computer that I will post later in the week that deals with banned books. I think it would interest you, and it certainly has a place with this post. :)

  3. Recently at Twinsburg High School there was controversy over whether or not students should read an edited version of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," because of the use of 'nigger' in the text. Students were pretty upset about the incident though, and the school opted to not use an edited version of the text, but it was still interesting seeing how the events unfolded.