Your rising 9th grader is assigned this book in Honors Lit for summer reading. WWYD?
Post ReplyPost New TopicPosted 7/31/2013 by caroscraps in NSBR Board
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angelag
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Posted: 7/31/2013 9:35:22 PM

Your conservative southern school assigned a book full of war, violence, and a horrible suicide on a funeral pyre.



but hey there's no s e x right?
wtf.


The girl in the OP is sheltered and her personal boundary is too much in this case. At 14, as a freshman in HS, is the right time for kids to be slowly immersed into the real world and read about and discuss heavy subject matter. The book is offensive to her because she is immature, and that's not a good reason to go talk to the teacher, it's a reason to teach your kid maturity. Alternatively, if it is a hill for the mother to die on then she needs to pull her child out of AP Lit, because the girl will not be able to handle it. High School AP Lit is not a class where you can demand changes of books. It's a class for those mature enough to take it. Honey, you're not in middle school anymore.



Yes.



9th grade? That is inappropriate. I don't care that it exists. What the HELL is the point of that? This isn't a Sexual History Class, it's ENGLISH!!! There are brilliant books out there that work better than this book.

I always think this is teachers trying to get a rise out of parents. There are not 20 books to choose from - there are thousands that are superb. Choose one of them for ENGLISH and leave that book to Psych 101.


I'm going out on a limb here and guess you have not read the book.
You should read it.





Donna in GA
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Posted: 8/1/2013 10:17:12 AM
My youngest ds had to read this book for a class in 10th grade. My son loves to read, but hated this book. He got a zero on a writing assignment for the book because the teacher said to write about what they found interesting in the book. Not a good way to word an assignment, by the way. My ds is very literal and turned in a blank paper and told the teacher he found nothing interesting about the book.

I have never read the book because I don't care for Toni Morrison's writing. As a teacher, I do find it disturbing that the English teacher could not find an equally good book that did not have disturbing sexual violence in it. I know all too well that life is tough and they need to learn to deal with it sooner or later, but why should a teacher get to decide this about a bunch of kids that the teacher hasn't even met yet? What if one of those unknown kids had been sexually assaulted? Why should they be required to read this book because it has literary merit?

A few years ago I taught a student whose father had tried to kill the entire family as they slept the year before. He had stabbed my student as he slept and then was moving on to the rest of the family. He had not killed my student and the child actually stopped the man from killing the others. This child had a horrible time his 8th grade year and was still having PTSD issues in the 9th grade. At the end of the 9th grade he came to me with the summer reading list for the next year because he knew that I read a lot. He wanted me to help him pick out a book based on what I knew about him. Lovely Bones was on the list. I led him away from that book because it would have been too disturbing for him to deal with at that time.

I had a student last year that stayed after school for some extra help and she told me how she was having a lot of problems because she had been raped 15 months before by her uncle. She had gone to stay the summer to take care of his kids and he basically held her prisoner the entire summer and raped her repeatedly. She didn't tell anyone for months and when she finally did, her mother was not very supportive. This older teen had already lived that nightmare, why should she be required to read about it in class?

My ramblings may not make any sense. I just feel that teachers need to think of more than the literary merit of a work. As a Chemistry teacher I have had to remove several really good labs from my curriculum due to increasing recurrence of certain allergies in the population. A couple of these labs really are the best way to demonstrate certain principles, but for the health of one or two students I do not do them anymore. And before anyone says anything, I know a physical allergy is different that being upset by something.

caroscraps
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Posted: 8/1/2013 10:34:18 AM
Donna, this is my concern too.


I had a student last year that stayed after school for some extra help and she told me how she was having a lot of problems because she had been raped 15 months before by her uncle. She had gone to stay the summer to take care of his kids and he basically held her prisoner the entire summer and raped her repeatedly. She didn't tell anyone for months and when she finally did, her mother was not very supportive. This older teen had already lived that nightmare, why should she be required to read about it in class?


This girl has never met this teacher and will not until next week. What if this was a girl who had the same scenario as you described? What if she didn't have the support of a parent to stand up for her and the reading of this book?



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CountryHam
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Posted: 8/1/2013 10:57:44 AM

If the class was a film appreciation type of class do you
think R rated movies should be shown to 14 year olds?
If the words on paper were put on film exactly as written
would it be OK?


No one who said that she should expect to read these types of
books in order to advance in AP etc answered this question.
We do have film appreciation classes here and I am curious about
your thoughts.



hop2
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Posted: 8/1/2013 10:59:22 AM

I do not sensor my children's books. If my DD came home reading 50 shades, so be it.


Sigh. I sure wish people would quit confusing the issues of ALLOWING children to read certain books and REQUIRING them to do so. I don't think anyone here has said they wouldn't allow their daughter to read The Bluest Eye. The question is whether she should be required to read it.

Sigh, I did not say this because I thought people were saying to sensor other's children from reading the book. Or because I do not know the difference between ALLOWING or REQUIRING.

It was in response to 'do I have a line' where if they crossed it I would be upset and complain. And in response, no I do not 'have a line' with relationship to the subjects of books. My children can choose to do what they wish to do with their assigned reading with my full support. (ie read it and do the work or not read it and take care of the repercussions of that. )

There are books I was assigned to read in HS that I did not 'complete', I either stopped reading them or skimmed some. I dealt with the exams or essays as I needed to. My parents did not care. I give my children the same choices, with my full support. Do you think that the grapes of wrath was an easy read? Or Warriors dont cry? (which my DD was required to read for 9th grade lit. deals with racism, bigotry, bullying and rape among other difficult topics ) No they were not easy to read, very difficult themes involved, but the reading of those books can be it's own reward. I was changed when i read "Warriors dont cry", Simply changed as a person. My DD passed the required work for the books so I 'assume' she read them or got the info elsewhere or faked it really well because she got high A's.

I dont think a parent can really filter books your child is assigned in High school or you may do them a disservice when those books/authors/ topics appear in exam form in places like the SAT or the AP test or wherever. That is why if the girl in the OP doesn't want to read the book it needs to be her informed choice not her helicopter mom's choice. Obviously each person should get to choose what they will or will not read. I certainly do. But the girl needs to choose herself and deal with the issues from her choice herself like a maturing student ought to do. She will gain much more respect from her teachers that way as opposed to mommy calling the school board over the book.

Cade387
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Posted: 8/1/2013 10:59:35 AM
I have not read the book in question, not sure it was on the list or even written when I was in school. I have never heard of it before this thread.

With that in mind - do kids not read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings in Middle School anymore? I remember reading that in 6th grade and I went to a small conservative Catholic school. I also was ahead so I was just turning 9/10 years old when I was in 6th grade.

We also read books like A Separate Peace, A&P (Updike), The Lottery, Lord of The Flies, etc all in Freshman year and while I was walking into new territory (my parents didn't let me see PG-13 until I was actually 13 and R until I was 17). It wasn't anything that disturbed me so much that I couldn't handle it.

At 9th grade you should be able ot read a book about being molested. If a child has gone through it themself, then they should talk directly to the teacher about it. If not, then all children should know that this can happen. They should know that it can be a family member and not always some perverted stranger in a trench coat in the park. Those dicussions should be happening between parents and their children.

I know that books can be more vivid than movies. I can also relate about being bothered by a book, but in this case. I would say that the student should ask the teacher if she has questions, the mother should stay out of it and offer support and thoughtful discussion on the book.

oh yvonne
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Posted: 8/1/2013 11:13:16 AM
I love this thread.

So many of my favorite peas posting here, on what they know best and are passionate about.

I'm interested in this subject because I'm wondering how my youngest will deal with these book subjects when she gets to that age. My older daughter is tougher and I never had to question anything she read, or was assigned to read. She's always been very mature for her age.

Now Dahlia, another story. She's my sensitive, scary one. I've pretty much sheltered her from a lot (she's just turned 7). I'm reading here, someone who has regretted sheltering her daughter and and I'm thinking maybe I'd better toughen her up just a bit (with tv watching, etc).

Anyway, thanks ladies for such a great, respectful and enlightening conversation!


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Sarah*H
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Posted: 8/1/2013 11:13:17 AM
I think it's a simple solution. Either pull the child from the class or homeschool. If she is unable or unwilling to work within an accepted curriculum because of her maturity or personal sensibilities, she's the one who needs to make the accommodation by either dealing or removing herself from the situation.


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msntlm
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Posted: 8/1/2013 7:02:09 PM
Would I make dd read the BOOK? Yes. Would I make her read those SCENES? No.

I don't agree with censorship, and think there's something to be said for required reading that is outside your comfort zone. However, skimming a disturbing section (to me) is like closing your eyes in a scary movie. You know what happens but don't necessarily need the details. The overall message of the movie (or book) comes across just fine. Just my opinion.
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-Tara-

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Posted: 8/1/2013 7:18:16 PM
I haven't read any responses...so here's my opinion based solely on the OP:

If she wants to continue with the AP class, she needs to do the assignment.

This is a good opportunity to have an honest discussion with your DD about the terrible things that sometimes happen to people (if you haven't already).

There are a lot of books I read in high school for assignments that bothered me for some time, but I got over it.

I hope your DD enjoys the class.


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Maryland
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Posted: 8/1/2013 8:44:51 PM
My just turned 14 yr. old will be in 9th grade. She is in Honors English and has to read "To Kill a Mockingbird". She is a very smart kid, but does not like to read. She is struggling with this book. We tell her that if she decides not to read it, than she won't be able to be in Honors English. It is fine with us if she chooses regular English, but in order to be in Honors, she has to do the assigned reading. (I know she will, but we act like it's up to her as that makes her more willing to just do it).

In our school, just because you opt out of Honors doesn't mean you can't be in it the following year (if you do well). So I think it's fine for the teacher to assign a school approved book and it's fine for the student to opt out of the class. My oldest just turned 16 and will be a junior. She has struggled with many books (and she loves to read!) because she didn't like the content for various reasons (Lord of the Flies didn't bother her, but she couldn't stand Tale of Two Cities). But it is important for her to be in all Honors, so she does what she has to do.


mirabelleswalker
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Posted: 8/1/2013 8:46:34 PM
The teacher expects that the students are mature enough to handle the content. If this child isn't, she should step out of AP and go back to the general English class.


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Ms. GreenGenes
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Posted: 8/1/2013 10:38:04 PM
Ill be the odd one out and say that there should be a better selection than this for school kids. I see lots of responses saying that 14 year olds should not be sheltered, and I wonder why that is. 14 years of life is enough to be faced with brutality and violence for no reason other than an AP credit? Do we think they won't get faced with it any other way? Is there a limit for the amount of time our kids should be allowed to live without this kind of truth?

Sad to say, but our kids cannot exist without facing those kinds of realities in life, and it won't require a book or a story to teach them what horrors exist IRL.

My kid would have nightmares about rape if she had to read this. Heck, *I* have nightmares about something like this happening to my kids. What benefit is there to discussing this kind of thing in an English class...an ENGLISH class...???why force a child into this frame of mind at this point? Will innocence damage her somehow? I don't understand the logic behind shoving violence into their faces and minds for the sake of academics, especially when they are telling you, as this child is, that it really bothers them. I think it can create problems that really don't need to be there.


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RST
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Posted: 8/1/2013 10:59:24 PM
Those of you who advocate for not exposing a young teen to violence and rape/incest, who speak about readers with extreme sensitivity to words and images, who point out that potentially some of the students will themselves have experienced traumas and will be hyper-sensitive or experience triggers -- what all of you have in common is a mindset which is not embracing that literature's role is to transform human suffering. This book is not about grammar. It's not about writing technique. It's not necessarily even about the characters or plot. It's doing what good literature exists to do -- take the reader outside of his/her own experience and mindset, and allow them to grapple with pain and horror and all that is hard and wrong in the world, and in some way, to transform that experience and find a redemptive or beautiful resolution.

I would argue that the very sensitive reader, the one who would find this book disturbing and painful, who might be "triggered" by it -- is the very one who can potentially benefit most from learning to read and analyze literature. The child whose own life has pain and trauma is the one who can potentially take away from the reading a lifeline for personal growth and hope -- or if not, may be able to start articulating why the author's message or resolution does not jive with their own values.

I still think it's an appropriate book for a mature 14 year old reader. However, in thinking about it over the last couple of days, I agree that I don't think it was a wise choice for a summer read, assigned by a teacher who has not yet met his/her class. In some homes or situations, a child may be dealing with really tough subject matter without the benefit of any sounding board or safe place to talk about what they're reading. This could potentially be a talking point with the school administration.(I wouldn't take this to the school board, personally).

As for why didn't the teacher select one of any number of other great "classics"? Well, some (many) would argue that this one *is* a modern classic. And generally speaking, I would much prefer to see a teacher selecting books for which they have a personal passion than force them to deal with a dry list of approved staples (with-in the bounds of reason, of course.) I wasn't thrilled when one of my sons' teachers assigned Hunger Games -- for one thing, the reading level is lowish, for another, most kids had already read it and/or seen the movie, for another, it's just not that stellar as literature. But, that teacher had a vision for how he would present it and the elements he would pull in, and he did a really great job of it. My son ended up reading it with a fresh perspective and really enjoying the class discussions that evolved with classmates who previously had not been engaged enough to read assigned books. That to say-- I'm generally for giving the teacher final say on which books they teach.

RST


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Aggiemom92
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Posted: 8/2/2013 10:29:51 AM

Those of you who advocate for not exposing a young teen to violence and rape/incest, who speak about readers with extreme sensitivity to words and images, who point out that potentially some of the students will themselves have experienced traumas and will be hyper-sensitive or experience triggers -- what all of you have in common is a mindset which is not embracing that literature's role is to transform human suffering.

...

I still think it's an appropriate book for a mature 14 year old reader. However, in thinking about it over the last couple of days, I agree that I don't think it was a wise choice for a summer read, assigned by a teacher who has not yet met his/her class. In some homes or situations, a child may be dealing with really tough subject matter without the benefit of any sounding board or safe place to talk about what they're reading.


These two paragraphs from the same post seem oddly contradictory to me. First you criticize my mindset and (I think) imply that I'm somehow unaware of the power of literature (though I was a lit major, but whatever). I was ready to respond to that with, "I do 'embrace literature's role in transforming human suffering.' I just think the human suffering of a 14 year old is a tricky thing to try to transform if you're a teacher that doesn't know said 14 year old." But then wait, you seem to absolutely agree with my "mindset." Hmmm. Frankly, I think MOST of the people on here said they didn't think a teacher should be requiring it (basically for the reasons you yourself came to articulate). I didn't see any that though teenagers should be shielded/prohibited from reading it.

nighthawk
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Posted: 8/2/2013 10:42:25 AM
When I was in 12th grade I took AP English. The idea is that this is essentially college reading material. One of the books had an explicit scene in it that was kind of wierd. It was essentially a molestation of a man and a teen boy but it wasn't a full on sexual intercourse.

There were some parents that went on a full on "ban this book" kick. Most of the people in my class disagreedn and since this is AP English with a long reading list that you can't possibly get through in the year the English teacher offered that anyone who objected to the content could choose a different book (he may have picked the book) and read it for that assignment. Which would even mean more work for him because he would have to make a separate test for it.

Really I think for 9th grade English though that book is inappropriate. Do you really want kids first encounter of sex in a book (which for many kids it might be) to be a molestation scene. It's different in 12th grade AP. By then some kids have had sex, or at least sexual encounters. If not they have read about some in a book. It's not the same as for a 9th grader.

I think whoever said force their kid to read it and write a report is being cruel. 14 is only 2 years past 12. It's a hard topic for adults and I avoid it. I don't watch Law and Order SVU and I avoid things that delve into into 2 much detail. It does stick with you and I would be LIVID as a parent that someone thought this was ok for 9th grade.


Cade387
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Posted: 8/2/2013 10:48:57 AM
I think what RST was trying to say (or at least, how I took the post) is that literature has so many different facets to it. Sometmes in HS kids read a book just to read a book but they don't get it, but teachers have that ability (the really good ones, anyway) to pull that discussion out of the students, mkae them look at life in a totally different way.

I think her point was that this may not have been a good choice for a summer read because there isn't the daily involvemnet and discussion in the class as the kids are reading through the book. So while they may discuss once back in the class, they can't digest it on a daily level with the teacher as would probably be good in this case.

It doesn't mean don't have them read it, but have them read something else over hte summer and tackle this one while in class. I think RST amkes a great point.

nighthawk
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Posted: 8/2/2013 10:56:46 AM

I would argue that the very sensitive reader, the one who would find this book disturbing and painful, who might be "triggered" by it -- is the very one who can potentially benefit most from learning to read and analyze literature. The child whose own life has pain and trauma is the one who can potentially take away from the reading a lifeline for personal growth and hope -- or if not, may be able to start articulating why the author's message or resolution does not jive with their own values.


There is so much other literature out there that I don't see why this needs to be thrown at a 14 year old. Especially as summer reading material before the school year even starts. There are so many books on the Honors/AP English Lit lists that there is no reason that this book needs to show up.

People complain all the time, our kids our growing up too fast, they are exposed to so much sexually explicit material. Why throw them this at them in English Lit in 9th grade.


nighthawk
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Posted: 8/2/2013 10:57:34 AM

I would argue that the very sensitive reader, the one who would find this book disturbing and painful, who might be "triggered" by it -- is the very one who can potentially benefit most from learning to read and analyze literature. The child whose own life has pain and trauma is the one who can potentially take away from the reading a lifeline for personal growth and hope -- or if not, may be able to start articulating why the author's message or resolution does not jive with their own values.


There is so much other literature out there that I don't see why this needs to be thrown at a 14 year old. Especially as summer reading material before the school year even starts. There are so many books on the Honors/AP English Lit lists that there is no reason that this book needs to show up.

People complain all the time, our kids our growing up too fast, they are exposed to so much sexually explicit material. Why throw them this at them in English Lit in 9th grade.


*Angela
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Posted: 8/2/2013 11:21:37 AM
Given the student has already read & is being impacted by the controversial sections of the novel, the "damage" is done; she cannot unread the violent words/imagery. I recommend the student or Mom contact the teacher today, if possible, to request a list of required reading for the course. The family can review the books & determine whether the student wishes to continue in this honors course before the school year begins!

RST
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Posted: 8/2/2013 12:31:56 PM
Well, Angie, speaking as one Literature major to another, I'm not being contradictory. I still think it's an appropriate book for an advanced 9th grader. But I think it was a poor selection for the summer read, for the reasons I specified. And that would be the talking point I would use if taking the issue to school administration -- answering the OP question.

I'm not being condescending to you as a reader, but I am taking issue with people who seem to think that literature selections are like math story problems-- don't like the wording in one, just use another comparable one.

RST



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RST
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Posted: 8/2/2013 12:40:52 PM
And for those of you lamenting that such horrible images and concepts are being thrown at 9th graders -- how many of those kids do you think have heard not one word about the Castro case where 3 young women, some of them not much different in age or background from themselves, were kept in sexual captivity?

I can't imagine that even the most sheltered girl hasn't seen something about that on the news or in a magazine in the dentist's waiting room. Their delicate sensibilities are already aware of evil and horror in the world. Giving them strong literature as a way to process is helpful, not damaging. I don't get the sheltered hothouse flower mindset. If something is hard and painful (and it should be) then give someone the tools to process and deal with it, don't keep them from challenges. They will face challenges to their innocent world view (really, most teen girls probably already have), and they'll be under equipped. Then you have people who will go through life unable to read a newspaper or a message board because of their extreme sensitivity to trigger images-- I don't doubt that is reality for some people, but it's got to be a hard way to live, and not something to aspire to.


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