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Administrator pulls novel from literature class

By The Associated Press
11.25.06

CARROLL, Iowa — A critically acclaimed book has been removed from a high school literature class in Carroll, after the district superintendent expressed concerns about its content.

Superintendent Rob Cordes hasn't read all of What's Eating Gilbert Grape? but says its sexual content is out-of-bounds for high school students.

Cordes said a parent expressed concerns about the book, which has been taught in Carroll High School's literature-to-film class.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape? was written by Peter Hedges, an Iowan, and has been taught in Carroll for several years.

"I believe there's some material in there that's inappropriate," Cordes said.

Carroll High teacher-librarian Kelly Fischbach says the book deserves to be judged in its entirety, not for a few sentences.

"It's a great book," Fischbach said. "Kids love it. Boys who are at risk love it — you know, the people whose (reading-comprehension) test scores we're trying to raise."

Fischbach says the novel by Hedges, a West Des Moines native, connects with rural Iowa teens.

"It's a story about a boy in Iowa who is stuck in a job that's going nowhere, living in a dysfunctional family," Fischbach said.

Cordes says the issue in the high school is a curriculum one, not a matter of censorship as What's Eating Gilbert Grape? is available for students to check out on their own accord in the school's media center.

Fischbach says the library has 25 copies of What's Eating Gilbert Grape? — 13 of which are checked out by students.


Update
Committee recommends reinstating novel banned from class
Carroll, Iowa, review panel votes 5-3 in favor of What's Eating Gilbert Grape?; decision to be forwarded to school board. 01.05.07

Related

Iowa library keeps ban on teen advice book

Board refuses to rescind earlier decision despite criticism that rejecting Sari Says: The Real Dirt on Everything from Sex to School is censorship. 08.08.02

Florida school board rebuffs call to ban Revolutionary War novel

Minister had asked officials to pull My Brother Sam is Dead from classrooms, saying issue wasn't about censorship but whether schools should 'endorse the use of profanity.' 04.12.04

Washington school district strikes contested book from reading list
Federal Way superintendent removes Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress from ninth-grade curriculum after parents complain about novel's sexual content. 05.12.04

Choosing what Johnny can read
School systems often agonize over which controversial books are acceptable to assign to students — and when to fight for them when objections arise. 10.30.05

Book censorship

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