Book Dropped From Summer Reading List
KCSD also removes book from libraries after parent's complaint about profanity
By Ashley Ford
June 29, 2011
The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) has removed a book from one of its summer reading lists, after a Camden High School parent expressed concern about profanity used in the book recommended for high school students.
Douglas Berry recently purchased “Angry Management” by Chris Crutcher for his rising ninth-grade son. He said his son grew concerned about the number of expletives included the book.
“So I read the first 24 pages of the book that he had read, and within the first 24 pages I’d pretty much read every curse word that you could read. But then I thought, maybe the book will get a little calmer,” he said. “I opened it up to a random page, and it was just horrendous. The use of the F-word was all over the place. I went back a page and I saw where they used it as the act of sex at what was supposed to be a chaperoned event.
“That was over-the-top ridiculous.”
Tuesday afternoon, KCSD Director for Communications Mary Anne Byrd said both parties have reached an agreement and the book has been removed from the reading list and the school district’s libraries.
“I don’t know that it was on a lot of the shelves in the school libraries -- there may have been copies of the books on a few displays. But it has been removed from the list,” Byrd said. “Mr. Berry brought his concern to (CHS Principal Dan) Matthews, and Mr. Matthews spoke with the school’s media specialist, who recommended an alternate book -- which is something that we do anytime a parent has an issue with a book that is being read in the schools.”
The KCSD summer reading list for high school students is compiled by English teachers and media specialists from the school district’s three high schools. All 40 books chosen for inclusion in the high school summer reading list are read by at least one individual serving on the committee, Byrd said, and “Angry Management” was a South Carolina 2011-12 Young Adult Book Award nominee.
“We appreciate the fact that Mr. Berry made his concern known. We take summer reading very seriously; we provide it as a way to build lifelong reading for students,” she said, adding that all high schools are given the same summer reading list. “We do have a process in place for parents that are concerned -- we have a policy outlined and we have a review committee.”
Byrd said the district has been assured by media specialists that the remaining books on the summer reading list are appropriate for high school students. Berry said he will be reimbursed for the cost of “Angry Management.”
However, he said there should a better way for the school district to ensure that books with numerous expletives do not make it onto reading lists in the future.
Before his daughter graduated from CHS last year, Berry said, she brought home two books from school that included a few expletives -- but they were classic books, so he decided not to say anything.
But after reading excerpts from “Angry Management,” Berry said he knew he had to say something.
“I’m not for censorship, I’m for common sense. We have to protect our children, not lead them in these ways,” he said. “They’re still minors, they don’t need to be reading adult books like that. Quite frankly, whether they’re in advanced reading classes or not, there’s too many really good books out there that have none of that verbiage in there that they can be reading instead.”
While Berry said he is grateful that both Matthews and Dr. Agnes Slayman, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, have been a “huge help during this process with helping him solve this problem,” he maintains that he will not rest until the system is fixed.
“It’s the system I want fixed,” he said. “I’m not going to stop; I’m not going to take ‘It’s fixed’ for an answer. I’m not going to let it be sweeped under the rug. I’m not stopping.”
Author reacts to novel's removal
July 11, 2011
Chris Crutcher says he is “shocked” a book he wrote was removed from school libraries in Kershaw County.
In an open letter to Kershaw County School District (KCSD) students published today, Crutcher said he was shocked that his novel, “Angry Management,” was removed not only from the district’s libraries, but the district’s summer reading list after receiving a complaint from one parent.
The district removed “Angry Management” from libraries and the reading list two weeks ago in response to Camden High School parent Douglas Berry’s concern about the number of expletives included in the book.
Crutcher said he first learned of the removal after receiving an email and a copy of the Chronicle-Independent’s June 29 issue with a story on the parent’s challenge of the book from a local librarian -- a move that prompted him to write today’s letter.
“My first reaction was, ‘Again?’” he said, adding that several of his books have been challenged in the past. “But my biggest reaction was that not much protocol was followed. One distressed parent made a complaint … it was just pretty dramatic.”
Berry declined to comment on Crutcher’s response Thursday.
“Angry Management” was only temporarily removed from the summer reading list, said KCSD Director for Communications Mary Anne Byrd. Byrd said a review committee will be formed and meet in the next 10 days. The school-level review committee will consist of a classroom teacher, an administrator and the school’s media specialist.
“As a school district, our responsibility is to balance concerns with free speech. For us, the bottom line is what is best and appropriate for our young people,” she said.
Additionally, Byrd said the school district has received positive feedback from the local community that has been supportive of its decision to remove the book from the summer reading list.
Crutcher said one of the misconceptions people have of his books is that he writes solely for shock value. Instead, he said, his fiction books are influenced by his experiences as a child and family therapist.
“There’s this idea that I talk about things that we shouldn’t talk about,” he said, adding that he writes about issues that young people face today. “I don’t have anything particular that I’m trying to get across, I’m trying to tell a good story. I’ve read letters and emails from kids saying ‘This book saved my life,’ or ‘This book showed me that I wasn’t alone. When I match these kids’ reactions to the complaints, then there’s no contest.”
Angry Management Temporarily Banned from Kershaw County Schools (WLTX)
Camden, SC (WLTX) - The Kershaw County School District has temporarily banned a book from two of it's high schools and summer reading programs after a complaint from a student's parent.
The book is causing quite the controversy in Kershaw County. "Angry Management" by Chris Crutcher features three main characters, all who battle issues with prejudice, rage, and hope.
But not everyone is happy with the language in the book.
One parent's concerns have caused the Kershaw County School District to temporarily pull the book from the school's library and summer reading list.
"We have temporarily removed Angry Management from our summer reading list for our high school students,"said Mary Anne Byrd with the Kershaw School District.
She wouldn't say specifically why the book has been temporarily pulled, but said that "it's under review."
"We had a parents file a formal concern which is a part of our policy. So we are in the process of formally reviewing," said Byrd.
It used to be one of 40 books on the Kershaw County School districts summer reading list, but not anymore.
"As a school district we have to balance free speech and concerns from our parents and in the long run the bottom line is what's best for our students. So for concern for our students we thought this would be the best move in this particular situation," said Byrd.
News 19 spoke with the author of the book, Chris Crutcher, by phone who feels the book should remain in the curriculum and on the list until a decision has been made.
"Is this a violation of first amendment rights? It sure seems like it is to me," said author Chris Crutcher.
"What bothered me most is that one person could come in and completely disrupt the entire educational process. He has no right to be able to dictate what other kids should be able to read."
It's a controversy the school district says they are trying to manage fairly.
"If we didn't listen to one parent where would we be? Every parent's voice is important to us. So sure, one parent has made a concern so we're going to listen to that parent look at it and take another look through the process," said Byrd.
The Kershaw County School District says it will take their review committee about three weeks to review the book. They will then make a final decision on if students will be allowed to read the book as a part of their summer curriculum.