How Dallas-Area ISDs Are Celebrating "Banned Books Week." Some, By Banning Books.

Tom Sawyer's not terribly suitable for Richardson's middle-school kids. Rush's or Mark Twain's, we're guessing.
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The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas just released its 11th Annual Banned Books Report, titled Free People Read Freely. (That's the slogan of the American Library Association's Banned Books Week, which lasts from September 29 through October 6 -- and me, without my greeting cards.) The report, which the ACLU said it compiled only after surveying "every school district in Texas," includes books "that were banned, restricted or retained as a result of a challenge" made by a principal, a teacher, a student or a parent. And while the Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs didn't make the list -- whew -- surrounding area school districts did make it, among them Frisco, Grapevine-Colleyville, Highland Park, McKinney, Pleasant Grove and Richardson.

Some of the complaints were fairly benign: At McKinney High School, for instance, Herman Hesse's Siddhartha was challenged for its "sexual content." But the school district didn't ban the book, as it's actually part of the school's curriculum. Reports the ACLU: "Formal challenge was made anonymously. Campus committee met and unanimously voted to retain the book.”

But in Richardson's high schools, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was met with a challenge, based on the book's "inappropriate language" and the fact it "contains text that some might find sensitive or controversial." Says the ACLU, the book was being taught in a seventh-grade English class -- about when I read it in DISD, way back when -- and that an "alternate book [was] allowed," as the district believes the book is suitable for 10-12th grades.”

The complete report is available here, unless you've been banned from reading it. The list of banned and challenged books by district begins on page 8, for those needing to skip to the good stuff. --Robert Wilonsky

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