I was further appalled when he told me that there was no class discussion, only independent reading and paperwork (worksheets, tests,etc.) I began to wonder why the books were chosen, and I'm still not sure. But, being a teacher myself, I didn't charge up to the school and voice my distaste for certain books.
Let's face it--"classic" authors dealt with the same weighty subjects.There's nothing new under the sun! The Scarlet Letter comes to mind. Did Hawthorne present his topic as graphically as authors do today? No. Still, it was all out there.
I believe that the classic books which have been discarded in favor of the newer ones are still valuable. My son hated Great Expectations and loved Jane Eyre. He'll never forget To Kill a Mockingbird, a book that I understand is banned in some places.I love Joseph Conrad--and I've seen some of his books on the "banned/challenged" lists, too. We may as well ban life if we can't write about it!
The point is, there's age-appropriate, and there's appropriate in general, and I think everybody needs to use some common sense. I also think that parents have abdicated their parental oversight, so their outrage isn't necesarily justified. Carelessly-chosen books in the classroom are asking for trouble. That's not to say these same books shouldn't be available for independent reading.
Do I support common decency in the arts? Absolutely. I can close a book, walk out of a theatre, or choose not to go to an exhibit. I abhor the idea of pornography. But there have to be standards of decency. The line must be drawn somewhere--consistently. Rational discussion, not political correctness, must govern our decisions.
I watched the television series The Waltons faithfully. One of the most moving episodes took place either just before or at the beginning of World War II. The local minister, in his misguided attempt to speak out against the evil of Nazism, organizes a community book burning of German-language books. Horrified, John-Boy points out to the minister that his actions are no better than those of Hitler, who also supported burning books.
He snatches a volume from the bonfire before it is consumed and hands it to one of his neighbors, a woman of German ancestry who is fluent in the language. Reluctantly, she opens the book and begins to read.
In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth...
The scene brought me to tears. In it is a lesson for us all.
Please follow this link to another blog on this topic by Margo Dill. It's a worthwhile read.