School district pulls 2 classic novels off required reading list

Sunday, 11 Feb, 2018

Michael Cary, director of curriculum and instruction for the Duluth, Minnesota School District, said the books will remain optional reading and available through the school library.

Cary said the school's administrators and teachers were working on introducing new books to the curriculum.

Ninth grade students from the Duluth school district were required to read that novel.

"The comments we have received is that it bothers many students", Cary said.

Duluth teachers, on the other hand, while not necessarily opposed to the decision are concerned that they were not at least consulted, according to union president Bernie Burnham.

"Our children do not need to read racist insults at school", Witherspoon said.

Cary said the books were removed in order to be "considerate of all of its students". "They deal with that every day out in the community and in their life. Racism is still very prominent".

School districts in Virginia and Pennsylvania have also dropped the book after receiving complaints from students and parents.

The American Library Association listed "Huck Finn" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" as the 14th and 21st "most banned or challenged books" respectively from 2000-2009.

Both Lee's 1960 novel about a little girl navigating the segregated South, and Mark Twain's 1884 novel about a poor white boy and a slave running way down the MS river are required readings in high school literature classes.

One of the first attempts to ban To Kill a Mockingbird was in Eden Valley, Minnesota in 1977 - not because of the N-word, but because it contained the words "damn" and "whore lady". If there is a silver lining to the district's literature embargo, it is that students can now discover authors like Mark Twain and Harper Lee for themselves. "To hear that the novel is "immoral" has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of double-think".

While administrators said that no single incident prompted the reading list change, there have been complaints about the books' use of a racial slur in the past.

'On the contrary, the classroom is where the history, use and destructiveness of this language should be examined and discussed'.

The two books will be removed from the English classes of the Duluth school district beginning next year.