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PABBIS NEWS 2 FEB 2001 - 2 FEB 2002

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2 February 2002


PABBIS Website One Year Old - Happy Birthday! - The First Year in Review


PABBIS was formed with three purposes:

1) To inform people about the issue of controversial books in schools
2) To let people know exactly what material is in the books
3) To let people know what they can do about it

This has been a very encouraging and exciting first year. We have made great progress towards all three of these objectives. PABBIS has made thousands and thousands of people aware of controversial books in schools, not only in Fairfax County, VA and throughout the United States, but even in other countries. Using the internet, flyers, telephone calls, and other techniques we have worked, and will continue to work, to let people know about this important issue and what they can do about it.

We are in contact with, and exchanging information about controversial books with people and organizations all over the country. We have and will continue to place particular emphasis on Fairfax County Public Schools until they respond to our requests for:

1) Book Selection Standards of Decency - PABBIS believes that "not legally obscene" is much too low of a benchmark for school literature standards.

2) Upfront Informed Parental Consent on books with controversial content - This would respect the diversity of viewpoints held by students' families. The reluctance to do this that we have seen in Fairfax County is very troubling. Educators say that parents have a right to oversee what their children are reading, yet will not disclose specific controversial content. To date their attitude has been arrogant and assumes "we know what's best for your child." PABBIS believes parents have a right to determine what material is inappropriate for their children, before they are exposed to it in school. None of this extreme content is necessary for an effective curriculum.

We now have the excerpts from 54 books on our website to let parents know exactly what the controversial material is. You might find some of the material from these books quite offensive to read, but that is the point. Our children are reading this in school. We will not hide from the truth of exactly what is in these books. We will continue to let more people know. We do not regard books with graphic descriptions of rapes, incest, oral sex, bestiality, homosexuality, pedophilia, explicit violence, sex associated with violence, torture, vulgarity and other extreme material with an everythings fine, leave it to the "educators" attitude.

The PABBIS List of Lists developed in response to recommendations and requests for information about books has been a great success in helping parents. It lets parents know what books are controversial and/or have been previously challenged. Forewarned is forearmed and using the List of Lists parents can decide if they need to find out more about a particular book to decide if it is, or is not, appropriate for their child.

We are on track with our goals for growth and will continue to work to get more people aware and informed on this issue. PABBIS will continue to fight against books in school that undermine your family values and beliefs. PABBIS will continue to fight for your parental rights and for book selection standards of decency. PABBIS will continue to fight for Upfront Informed Parental Consent on books with controversial content.

We have been very encouraged this first year by the response to this site and will continue to use it to provide information about this issue.

Thanks for letting others know about PABBIS and making them aware of this important issue. Thanks for your many emails of support, encouragement, appreciation and offers of help. And finally, a special thanks to all the parents and teachers who give us information about what is happening in their schools, especially those in Fairfax County, Virginia.

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5 January 2002


The Most Frequent Explanations Schools Give Parents For Using Bad Books


PABBIS hears from parents and school officials all over the country that are involved in book disputes and issues. PABBIS has consolidated and compiled a list of the most common reasons parents are given by educators as to why bad books are being used. They are presented in the following Top 16 Reasons List. This list is not all inclusive, but it does address the vast majority of explanations given. The reasons are very consistent throughout the country. It appears that the educators all took the same Justification for Extreme Material 101 training class.

Reason #16 - We didn't know it was in there. We don't read the books.
We are laughing so hard it hurts.

Reason #15 - It's the only book that has this type of material. It's an aberration.
Yeah, right. It's the only cockroach in the restaurant. Besides, if they don't read them how do they know?

Reason #14 - These children are in accelerated classes and require "mature" books
A 13 year old child who reads well is still 13 years old. A 15 year old child who reads well is still 15 years old. There are many difficult and advanced books without graphic sex and violence. Mature is a misleading word. Plenty of mature adults don't want to read books with graphic content. Since when has extreme material become a sign of maturity?

Reason #13 - We need to use this material to get the children interested in reading
Should we put sex and violence in science and math classes to get the students more interested in these subjects? If it took Playboy to get students interested in reading would that be used?

Reason #12 - Your children can see graphic and explicit sex and violence, and other controversial material anyway. (TV, Internet, Movies)
Yes they can, especially if their parents allow it. It might surprise some school officials but the computers and TV's in our homes come with an off switch. Movies are rated and no children under certain ages are allowed in theaters without their parent. Schools have internet filters, regulations prohibiting possession of pornographic material, access to pornographic internet sites, and the showing of movies that are below rated age levels

Reason #11 - This material is not technically legally obscene
This isn't a very high standard for children. Most parents and families have much higher standards than this.

Reason #10 - The world is not a pretty place. These "things" really happen.
First, these books are fiction books. Second, many things happen in the "real world" that are not allowed in school. There are rules against sexual harassment, fighting, drug and alcohol use, vulgar language, using computers to access pornography, etc. Note that some of these activities are allowed out of school or by adults , but that in school, different rules apply. Third, just because Columbine, Ted Bundy, Jeff Dahmer, child rape, etc. are "real world" and "happen" should our children read in vivid disgusting detail about these kinds of atrocities?

Reason #9 - We are professional educators. We know what is best for your child.
Yeah, and we're from the Government and are here to help you. This is what Totalitarians, Communists and the Taliban told the people. Even the United Nations states it is a right for parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children (or not). Even if educators think they know best, that does not give them the right to trample on our rights.

Reason #8 - Intellectual freedom
For whom? The teachers can have all the "intellectual freedom they want, when outside of the K-12 schools and with our children not involved.

Reason #7 - Children need to learn about "these things". It's a necessary part of growing up and their education. Without this they will be naive about the "real world" and turn into sex sluts, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. when "exposed to the real world".
In English and History class?! We don't think so. We will elect to teach our children about "these things" if and when, and in the manner we desire, outside of these classes. If learning these things was really necessary, how come they are not stated in the course objectives and standards of learning? Isn't "sex ed" covered in other classes?

Reason #6 - This material is necessary to teach "multi-culturalism"
What?! The culture of sadomasochism or pedophilia? Are you trying to tell us that all books about other cultures contain graphic/explicit sex and violence? That is certainly insulting to other cultures. Why don't schools respect all the diversity of cultures, including those that don't want their children reading extreme material?

Reason #5 - Parents can always select another book if they object
How are parents to know what is in the books? They are busy and cannot read them all. Educators typically say that parents have a right to "choose another book", yet refuse to disclose specific controversial content prior to use.

Reason #4 - Children can decide to stop reading the book when they "feel uncomfortable"
So our children should have to read a scene with oral sex or some other objectionable material to decide they are "uncomfortable"? It's the parents, not the child's decision. Some children would feel "comfortable" with the Playboy photos and letters, but parents should have the call.

Reason #3 - Freedom of Speech
For whom? Teachers? Authors? Book publishers? Or the students? K-12 students are children and minors, under the care of their parents until they reach legal age. Their parents 1st Amendment rights, not the teachers, is the real issue. What we are concerned with here is the 1st Amendment right for the consumer (not the producer) of the speech to exercise their right not to listen. Any parents who want their children to read Playboy, or even more graphic and explicit material, are able to allow this in their home, out of the schools. The 1st Amendment provides for free excercise of belief/religion. The schools should not be able to violate a families beliefs and values. The courts have consistently decided that freedom of speech rights do not fully apply to children in the school halls, classroom or student newspaper. No one at PABBIS is trying to take away anyone's right to read any book. Parents who want their children to read extreme controversial material are not restricted from doing so. Such books are available in public libraries and bookstores. Removing a book from a school setting, limiting access to certain grades, or obtaining parental consent before use does not mean it is "banned" from the community, just that schools cannot endorse age-inappropriate, vulgar, indecent and violent reading material in their libraries and classrooms. Free speech rights do not mean "anything goes" in the school. Individual beliefs and individual family values are really what are being censored and banned today.

Reason #2 - You are taking the graphic/explicit parts "out of context". "In context" it's different, and not offensive.
No, it's still offensive "in context". Students are prohibited from profanity, obscenity and sexual harassment in the halls, classrooms and in student newspapers even if "in context". Movies with graphic/explicit material still receive an NC-17 rating although the material is "in context" and not legally obscene. Are school standards lower than Hollywood's?

Reason #1 - We like this stuff, we think your children should read it, we don't care what parents think and we have been getting away with it because we have had the power to trample over your rights, beliefs and values.
Yes, schools have been trampling over our rights, values and beliefs and doing it more often. Yes, schools generally will fight any parents who object to an "anything goes if not legally obscene" position. PABBIS will continue to fight for minimum Standards of Decency in school books and Upfront Informed Parental Consent. Perhaps this issue will ultimately have to be decided through a violation of civil rights court case if the schools continue down the path that they are now on.

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15 December 2001


PABBIS Adds Six New Books

With these 6 new books, there are now 54 books on the PABBIS website. These books are in use in Fairfax County, VA and in many other counties throughout the country. Five of these six new books are on the Fairfax County Public School Suggested Summer Reading List. Some of the material in these books is extremely controversial and you might find it objectionable or inappropriate for your child to read or discuss in school. Find out what your child is reading! See what is in the books.

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5 November 2001


PABBIS participates in Conference co-hosted by the Education Writers Association and the First Amendment Center


A PABBIS representative was on a panel discussing school book selection at the 3 November Conference on The First Amendment and Public Schools held at the Newseum in Arlington, VA. Their opening remarks were the following:

Parents trust that public schools use good judgment in choosing reading material for their children and most do. But awareness is increasing in recent years that this is not always the case. Subject matter found in books used in English and History classes includes graphic details of sexual acts, oral sex, gang rape, pedophilia, bestiality, prostitution, torture, drug use, abortion and other graphic and gratuitous violence. As parents step forward to object, it is unfortunate that they are labeled “book banners?and “censors?simply for trying to exercise their parental responsibilities and rights to direct the upbringing of their children. Book banning and censorship are inflammatory and misleading words. From our perspective, individual beliefs and individual family values are really what are being censored and banned.

Most people agree that certain words, phrases and depictions are obscene or vulgar. Many are defined as such in the dictionary. Their use in literature does not make them any less so. We can also agree that watching strangers have sex, which is what one’s mind is doing when reading a sexually explicit passage full of graphic details, is outside the norm of school-endorsed behavior, as is viewing repulsive graphic violence.

Parents Against Bad Books in Schools (PABBIS) was formed with three purposes?) to inform people about this important issue, 2) to let people know exactly what material is in the books, and 3) to let people know what they can do about it. All this information is available on the PABBIS web site at www.pabbis.org.

Efforts of the PABBIS organization are focused on two goals. The first is that book selection criteria for schools live up to basic standards of decency. PABBIS believes that “not legally obscene?is much too low of a benchmark for school literature standards. The second goal is to have up-front informed parental consent for controversial content.

My school system in Fairfax County has policies for students that prohibit vulgar, patently offensive and obscene language and writing, inappropriate movies and harmful Internet content. These help ensure a safe, respectful place to learn. Our school board has been asked to apply the same common sense policies to reading selections. If students are held to standards, shouldn’t educators be also?

Virginia Law states that “The entire scheme of instruction shall emphasize moral education through lessons given by teachers and imparted by appropriate reading selections.? Given that public schools must operate within this law, educators are obligated to use extra care in selecting reading materials that will be offered to other people’s minor children. Virginia Law also states that the local school board has the responsibility for “Placing special emphasis on the thorough evaluation of materials related to controversial or sensitive topics such as sex education, moral education, and religion.?br>
The Supreme Court allows for removal, from school libraries and classrooms, of books that are deemed to be pervasively vulgar or educationally unsuitable. The Court, in Pico v. Board of Education, 1982, maintains that school board actions, in reviewing questionable materials, should reflect “community interest in promoting respect for authority and traditional values be they social, moral or political.? The Court wisely recognizes the schools?unique position of influence.

Although the law states that morality and traditional values are the principles that should guide the choice of school literature, it is evident that this is not always the case. Instead we see our schools becoming a minefield of vulgar, sexually explicit and graphically violent books. These books are in the libraries and the curriculum, in regular, International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement classes, and on required, choice and suggested reading lists. In effect, the public schools have joined others in our society in marketing sex and violence to our minor children. Spending taxpayer money to do this is of great concern.

With no school policy to eliminate extreme book content, parents, who happen to find out that their child is about to read, is reading, or already has read an objectionable book, must resort to challenging books to get the attention of the school system. But the cards are stacked against the challenger from the very start. Committees formed by Fairfax County schools to deal with book challenges consist mostly of employees of the school, who are either trained that it is wrong to remove something that has already been selected or are interested in maintaining the status quo, which means “never admit a mistake.? A few carefully selected parents are included and they are easily led along in discussions aimed at reaching a consensus. It is a discriminatory and biased process.

For a school library challenge, the American Library Association clearly states its aim is to be proactive in making sure all challenges fail, regardless of their merits. Their position seems to be “anything goes if not legally obscene,?even for what is openly offered to children without parental supervision. They make no distinction between school libraries and public libraries.

A free marketplace of ideas is part of what makes our country great. But it is overstepping proper boundaries for state-run schools to present those ideas in books with extreme controversial content. Educators who believe such content has merit are actually sending a message to students that reading sexual and violent material is intellectually important and that their parents?values don’t count.

Public education is supposed to be for all children. So why do some teachers, librarians and administrators choose to promote reading material they know will offend many, if not most? This attitude is arrogant, disrespectful and irresponsible. Many families have high standards of moral conduct. Educators make a serious mistake when they adopt the lowest standards with an extreme position of “anything goes if not legally obscene.?br>
Books with extreme content have no place in any of our schools. All other books should be carefully scrutinized for grade level appropriateness. For books that are not extreme, but still contain controversial material, educators who insist on their use should offer up-front disclosure of contents and specific parental consent before use. This would respect the diversity of viewpoints held by students?families. The reluctance to do this that we have seen in Fairfax County is very troubling. Educators say that parents have a right to oversee what their children are reading, yet balk at disclosing specific content. They realize that if it’s too inconvenient or time-consuming, parents won’t bother to check for themselves. And they figure the few who do check and find a problem can be “handled?and made to feel like they are overreacting. The attitude conveyed is “we know what’s best for your child.?br>
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) recognizes that parents have a right to choose what their children will read. The NCTE also states, on their web site, that a book rationale should be done prior to book selection and that special emphasis should be placed on controversial material so that parents know when to select an alternate book. PABBIS favors this and believes the information should be objective and quantitative so parents may decide for themselves and their child.

Teachers can expose students to American and other cultures without resorting to crude portrayals characterized by vulgarity, sexuality and violence. Use of such material in schools, no matter what context it is used in, no matter what contemporary or multicultural message it is intended to convey, is in direct conflict with many people’s values. Just as students are required to use self-restraint in action, language and writing, educators should use self-restraint, discretion and professional judgment. Both the student and the teacher need to convey their messages with good taste.

The most disturbing aspect of the current situation is that parents seem to have lost the liberty to raise their children in accordance with their values. Use of graphic and controversial material in schools looks to us like a totalitarian approach to a state dictated belief system. This is wrong. In America the state should not trample on a family’s beliefs. “Anything goes?extremists need to exercise self-censorship when their actions will impact others.

Educators and parents must work cooperatively and trustfully in the best interest of children. When we tell our children that school is a good place for them to be and their teachers deserve respect, we want to be telling them the truth. Some educators have forgotten that their clients are the parents, and that it is important to have a trusting relationship with them. Honesty about what they want to teach our kids is paramount to this trust. The real fear, we believe, is that as the light begins to shine clearly on the sexually explicit and graphically violent material they sometimes use with our children, it is becoming very awkward for them to justify it to concerned and angry parents. As PABBIS continues to shine the light, awareness and concern is growing.

One more point is really critical to note. No one at PABBIS is trying to take away anyone’s right to read any book. Parents who want their children to read extreme controversial material are not restricted from doing so. Such books are available in public libraries and bookstores. Removing a book from a school setting does not mean it is “banned?from the community, just that schools cannot endorse age-inappropriate vulgar, obscene and violent reading material in their libraries and classrooms. Beyond those extreme cases, up-front informed parental consent respects everyone's rights.


29 September 2001


Fairfax County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Domenech speaks out on book issues


Dr. Domenech was a member of a panel on school book selection issues conducted at George Mason University (GMU) on 19 September 2001. Every parent with children in the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) should consider carefully what he had to say.

Dr. Domenech quickly labeled parents concerned with the extreme content in some books as "a good argument for school vouchers". Hmmm... that would eliminate the problem. Anybody who has a problem with graphic sex and violence or other extreme material in books being used in the county could just take a voucher and leave. This was surprising. Public school administrators are typically against school vouchers and choice. We thought public schools were supposed to be for all children. In any case, just go away was clearly the tone and message to concerned parents.

When a member of the audience presented the panel with actual excerpts from some books used in FCPS, neither Dr. Domenech, nor any of the panelists, took the challenge to read them out loud. They were just too graphic. One panelist said he knew they would offend people in the audience. Despite not being willing to read them, Dr. Domenech thought that this type of material was still acceptable in schools for your children, since in the books it was "in context".

Later, when asked if he thought there could be any material that might be inappropriate even if "in context", Dr. Domenech did not answer the question. A parent must conclude that in FCPS anything is acceptable reading for their children, since it is all "in context", at least as long as there are no pictures. Later, Dr. Domenech did say Playboy magazine was not ok.

Dr. Domenech said FCPS has adequate standards for book selection already. He didn’t let the audience know, that he informed the school board back in June, that his staff would be developing standards for book selection. Perhaps Dr. Domenech would like to share with the public just what the current standards are. Parents might conclude that there really are no standards now. We hope the new standards will be meaningful. They need to address controversial material like that in the books the panelists refused to read out loud.

Throughout the panel Dr. Domenech repeatedly made statements that the controversial books were only "supplemental or suggested". This is not true. They are being used in the core curriculum all over the county.

During the panel Dr. Domenech said a number of times that parents have a right to decide if a book is inappropriate for their child. PABBIS agrees with this 100 percent. However the responsibility shouldn’t lie with parents to somehow omnisciently know what is in every book their child may be exposed to at school. It seems that the FCPS position articulated was that FCPS will use anything and everything, no matter how graphic, controversial and extreme. However, if you catch it (in time) they will let you choose another book for your child. Virginia Code 8VAC20-170-10 requires a “special emphasis on the thorough evaluation of materials related to controversial or sensitive topics such as sex education, moral education or religion? Virginia Code 22.1-208 states the “The entire scheme of instruction in the public schools shall emphasis moral education through lessons given by teachers and imparted by appropriate reading selections? It does not say anything goes, as long as when someone complains the schools will agree to allow an alternate book.

Dr. Domenech vehemently denied that he had said a book with an oral sex description was ok for a 15-year old. This is another untruth. See the 14 June 2000 front-page article in the Metropolitan Section of the Washington Times. PABBIS talked to the reporter who wrote this article the day after the GMU panel, and she reiterated that the article was correct.

If Dr. Domenech doesn't think oral sex is an appropriate topic for a 15-year old public school student, why does he support its continued use? See previous PABBIS News on the Druids and The Pillars of the Earth book challenges. Druids contains oral sex and The Pillars of the Earth has forced oral sex during a two-person rape of a prostitute while others were watching! These books are still being used in the FCPS.

Clearly the FCPS actions show that they believe oral sex descriptions are acceptable. Concerned parents should wonder why Dr. Domenech was honest about it in the 14 June 2000 article, but is not now. Don’t mince words. Say what you do, and do what you say. Let’s be perfectly frank and open. FCPS believes oral sex descriptions are acceptable. Come on...... say it.

Most parents do not think oral sex descriptions and other extreme, graphic material is appropriate in History and English class books. The schools have no right to dictate these "values" (or lack of) on everybody. This is not a totalitarian state. FCPS supposedly supports an inclusive policy recognizing the cultural diversity in the public school system. The statements of the FCPS leader give us grave concern. FCPS does not have the right to trample over peoples values. What ever happened to the supposed FCPS objective of being inclusive to all the diversity of student’s (and parent’s) backgrounds? Graphic sex, violence, profanity, racial slurs and other extreme material offend many people, no matter how it is taught, and no matter what "context" it is put in.


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3 September 2001


PABBIS Comments on: School Book Bans: Sense or Censorship, a August 9, 2001 Guest Column by Mychele B. Brickner and Kerry Paul Altman in The Washington Post


PABBIS got a laugh reading what Mr. Altman wrote. Any parent who has a problem with their child reading books with graphic sexual and violent content in public school was quickly dismissed as not a "reasonably literate person". Parents concerned about what their children were reading in school and disagreeing with Mr. Altman's viewpoint were labeled a "posse". Oh well, more name calling. Hmmm....

He, like Mr. Stuart Gibson (Fairfax County School Board), says lack of parental involvement is the "real concern". Well we are a very involved group of parents, and will continue to get more involved. Perhaps the real issue Mr. Altman has is that we are involved with what our children are reading, and we don't like some of the books the schools are having them read.

Mr. Altman says that we need to make our children read books with graphic, disturbing sexual and violent content in school and as "active parents" discuss these things with them. Yes, forced oral sex is a "disturbing social reality" and a "difficult issue in everyday life". However, we do not think our children need to be reading about it in school. If, and when we want, we will discuss these, and other things, with our children in the manner and at the age we feel appropriate to our values. We do not see how our children not reading about the "disturbing social reality" of a child's rape is "naive and potentially dangerous", or how it will hurt them in preparing for the "responsibilities of citizenship and community".

We do see how forcing our children to read books with this controversial material undermines our values and violates our parental rights. We don't understand why these books are required to complete the learning objectives. Mr. Altman seems to suggest that only books with graphic sex and violence can achieve the learning objectives. Mr. Altman never explains how a child's rape, oral sex, etc. is necessary to achieve the English curriculum standards of learning and course objectives. PABBIS wonders if he believes these things are already or should be part of the course learning objectives.

The Fairfax County Public Schools, like all schools already do "police" our children's reading. It is their job to select the books. To force books on our children with graphic sex and violence sounds like what happens in a totalitarian regime. What happened to respect for a diversity of values? Mr. Altman may want to "develop their character and values" by having his children read books with graphic sex and violence, but not everybody does. Surely there is room in the public schools for people whose values conflict with these things. Or is Mr. Altman really suggesting that those parents, who feel graphic sex and violence is inappropriate, must have these books forced on their children anyway?

PABBIS wonders what book, if any, Mr. Altman would feel is inappropriate for school children of any age. PABBIS thinks Mr. Altman's standard is anything goes, which is no standard at all. Mychele Brickner (Fairfax County School Board) points out there are already school standards for movies, internet sites, obscene and vulgar expression, and clothing with profanity, etc. PABBIS wonders if Mr. Altman advocates eliminating these standards. After all, anything goes. Right?


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3 September 2001


Be informed on controversial material in the Movies and Videos

See screenit.com for excellent information on controversial material in movies and videos. Specific information and facts on sex, violence, language, themes and situations that are controversial or age inappropriate is provided. Get informed on the movies your child might watch at school, home or elsewhere. See kids-in-mind.com for another great source of information on controversial material in movies and videos.

Books are similar to movies in that they have language and paint for the reader a mental picture. Many books used in school would be rated extreme or R-restricted if the same standards as those used for movies were applied.


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3 September 2001


NEW - List of Lists now available on PABBIS website - NEW

Lists of challenged or controversial books from various sources have been worked into one consolidated master list. This New PABBIS List of Lists has over 700 books on it. This list was developed in response to reader recommendations and requests for information on controversial books. Books on this list may or may not be appropriate for your child. The following sources lists were used in developing this List of Lists:

- The 100 most challenged books 1990-1999; The American Library Association (ALA)
- The 50 most challenged books 1990-1992; Banned in the U.S.A. by Herbert N. Foerstel
- Challenged or Banned Mar 94 - Mar 95; ALA Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom
- Challenged or Banned May 98 - Mar 99; ALA Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom
- Books on Modern Library's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century that have been challenged or banned
- Books on National Council of Teachers of English CD-ROM of book rationales/pre-packaged book challenge responses
- Books challenged somewhere in the United States in the last 15 years; Waldenbook promotion
- List of Gay, Lesbian and bisexual books; compiled by Marin Younker April 97
- List of books with Gay and Lesbian characters and themes in Children’s Books; listed on an annotated bibliography by Wendy L. Betts copyright 1995
- Books challenged or banned in Wisconsin in recent years; Marathon County Public Library, WI
- Banned and Challenged Books in Texas Public Schools; year unknown


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3 September 2001


Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) Book Selection Standards?

In response to a petition being circulated (see 01 May 2001 PABBIS News story), requesting that the School Board develop a policy to protect children from inappropriate books, Dr. Domenech (FCPS Superintendent) announced in June 2001 that the FCPS staff would start developing standards for book selection.

Virginia Administrative Code 8VAC20-170-10 places with local school boards the responsibility for placing special emphasis on the thorough evaluation of materials related to controversial or sensitive topics. Virginia Code 22.1-238 Titled: Emphasis on Moral Education states: The entire scheme of instruction in public schools shall emphasize moral education through lessons given by teachers and imparted by appropriate reading selections. Virginia Code 22.1-277.02:1 prohibits profane or obscene language or conduct.

Despite these state laws, many of the books currently selected for use in FCPS contain controversial and extremely graphic content. Books with rape, oral sex, incest, bestiality, homosexuality, rape of children, explicit and graphic violence, the association of sexual arousal with violence and other morally controversial and sensitive material. The use of books with this controversial material does not seem to be unusual or rare in FCPS. These books, which were brought to the schools by the same people now developing standards, are in the school libraries and classrooms. These books are on assigned, required, suggested and choice reading lists. These books are in the regular, IB and AP programs. The use of books with this controversial material is common in FCPS.

FCPS employees generally seem to support the current status quo, which appears to be the extreme position of anything goes. Some Fairfax County School Board representatives also support the current anything goes standard based on their recent votes on book challenges. PABBIS is concerned that standards, developed by the same people who created the current situation, and who are working them behind closed doors, without parent involvement, may be inadequate. An anything goes standard will be equivalent to no standard at all and will result in the continued undermining of our values, violation of our parental rights, impact on free expression of religion and continue to violate the law. Responsibility for approving any new standard lies with the Fairfax County School Board elected representatives.

PABBIS wonders when Dr. Domenech will release the proposed standards to the Board, and how long the Board will have to review them prior to any vote. Will developing standards behind closed doors be followed by little or no time for review?


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3 September 2001


PABBIS Adds Seven New Books

With these 7 new books, there are now 48 books on the PABBIS website. These books are in use in Fairfax County, VA and in many other counties throughout the country. Some of the material in these books is extremely controversial and you might find it objectionable or inappropriate for your child to read or discuss in school. Find out what your child is reading! See what is in the books. A complete list of the books now on PABBIS is as follows:


Baby Be-Bop
Block, Francesca Lia

Beloved
Morrison, Toni

Bless Me Ultima
Anaya, Rudolfo A.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia

Druids
Llywelyn, Morgan

Fallen Angels
Myers, Walter

Fools Crow
Welch, James

Gates of Fire
Pressfield, Steven

Growing Up Chicana/o
Lopez, Tiffany Ana

Heroes
Cormier, Robert

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
Alvarez, Julia

I am the Cheese
Cormier, Robert

I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and licked out all the Pots
Straight, Susan

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Angelou, Maya

I Was a Teenage Fairy
Block, Francesca Lia

Kindred
Butler, Octavia B.

Like Water for Chocolate
Esquivel, Laura

Living by the Word
Walker, Alice

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel

Paula
Allende, Isabel

River God
Smith, Wilbur

Shogun
Clavell, James

Silver Pigs
Lindsey, Davis

Snow falling on cedars
Guterson, David

Song of Solomon
Morrison, Toni

Sophie’s World
Gaarder, Jostein

Stones from the River
Hegi, Ursula

The Antagonists
Gann, Ernest K.

The Bluest Eye
Morrison, Toni

The Bean Trees
Kingsolver, Barbara

The Chocolate War
Cormier, Robert

The Clan of the Cave Bear
Auel, Jean M.

The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind
Guterson, David

The First Man of Rome
McCullough, Colleen

The Handmaid’s Tale
Atwood, Margaret

The House of Spirits
Allende, Isabel

The Joy Luck Club
Tan, Amy

The King Must Die
Renault, Mary

The Moves Make the Man
Brooks, Bruce

The Name of the Rose
Eco, Umberto

The Pillars of the Earth
Follet, Ken

The sailor who fell from grace with the sea
Mishima, Yukio

The Source
Michener, James

The things they carried
O’Brien, Tim

Then Again, Maybe I Won’t
Blume, Judy

Thousand Pieces of Gold
McCunn, Ruthanne Lum

When I was Puerto Rican
Santiago, Esmeralda

Witch Baby
Block, Francesca Lia



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4 July 2001


PABBIS Comments on: Who Decides Which Book is 'Bad' ?, a June 28 2001 column in The Washington Post by Marc Fisher

Until now The Washington Post has pretty much fairly reported the news about PABBIS. Unfortunately this column gets beyond the facts and into name-calling and untruths.

The column said we are "parents who are proud of their anti-intellectualism." PABBIS is not sure how parents who have a problem with their children reading books with oral sex, gang rape, and other graphic sexual and violent content equates to proud anti-intellectuals. Many people feel that reading about these things should not be a part of High School English, History or any other subject.

Stuart Gibson, a FCPS board member said he didn't think that The Pillars of the Earth, when viewed as a whole, was legally obscene. So he thought it was acceptable in the schools. While Marc Fisher may disagree with PABBIS and agree with Stuart Gibson's position, PABBIS thinks that calling us "parents who are proud of their anti-intellectualism" is mean spirited, impolite, incorrect, a disservice to readers and does not reflect well on the newspaper. Some people feel very strongly that "not legally obscene" is way too low a benchmark for school literature standards. Civilized debate on any issue is healthy and vital to facilitate good government. While PABBIS understands that a newspaper column is different than a news story, calling those who oppose your viewpoint names does not help facilitate anything.

This column also mistakenly says PABBIS has declared certain books 'bad.' PABBIS has not declared any books bad. PABBIS thinks only the parent can make this call. "A bad book for your child is what you determine is bad. Not us here at PABBIS, not the schools, not the government, not elected officials. ONLY the parent." Our welcome page says "some of the material in these K-12 school books is extremely controversial and many people would consider it objectionable or inappropriate for their children." PABBIS points out controversial material, but the parent makes the call as to what is inappropriate or objectionable for their child.

Obviously what each parent thinks appropriate for their 12th grader might differ considerably from what they consider appropriate for their 9th grade, 7th grade, or younger children. It depends on the child and the parent's unique situation, family and values. It is a matter of differentiation, age appropriateness, and discriminating taste.

What is troubling to PABBIS is the apparent glut of books with controversial and potentially objectionable material. Equally troubling is the fact that parents are not informed ahead of time that this controversial material is going to be used. How racy, historical fantasy novels are somehow considered necessary or desirable to achieve curriculum and learning objectives is very troubling.

The column states "schools have caved in, permitting parents to demand alternative readings." Well, as this website states and as was discussed with Mr. Fisher, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) says a minimum book rationale (done prior to use) should include alternative works an individual student might read. The NCTE guidelines on How to Write a Rationale says that the list of alternatives is useful when parents exercise their right to choose what their child will read. Perhaps the position of this large professional English Teachers organization should not be so quickly trivialized. No reading alternatives allowed, when controversial material is used, begins to sounds a lot like a totalitarian state. PABBIS thinks alternative reading selections make sense.

The column correctly notes that literary quality has nothing to do with PABBIS. As we state on our site we focus "solely on books with controversial and potentially objectionable material." Lots of other folks look at the literary quality. The school system, teachers, etc. The schools always say the books in question have literary merit (or how else could they have gotten there?).

The column states that the PABBIS website "is a lurid catalogue of sexually explicit and bloody passages." It did not note that this part of the website was in an adult content section. PABBIS notes that these sexually explicit and bloody passages are from books that the columnist seems to think that school children should read, and furthermore should be given no alternative to, even if their parents object.

The column states that the book The Pillars of the Earth is not assigned to any classes. That is not true. In the next paragraph it notes this book was on a class list of books, of which students were required to pick one to read (also discuss and report on). The column did not mention, that in the discussion before The Pillars of the Earth vote, the fact that this book was actually being used in the curriculum was acknowledged; despite previous statements by the schools, and some school board members, that this book was "only a library issue". During the meeting it was also noted that this book went home on summer homework lists in at least 3 schools. Mr. Fisher, you attended the school board meeting and heard the discussion. Why did you mislead The Washington Post readers and say the book was not assigned to any classes?

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4 July 2001


Despite statements by the FCPS and some members of the School Board, the books featured on PABBIS are not just "library issues." At the last school board meeting it was finally acknowledged that The Pillars of the Earth was being used in the curriculum at number of schools. While it may be convenient for FCPS to pigeonhole this into a library only issue, that is not the case.

PABBIS recently obtained the Westfield High School Social Studies Summer Assignment. The novels on this Summer Assignment were applicable to all high school grades, from rising 9th - 12th graders. Five (5) of the books already featured on PABBIS were on the reading list (Gates of Fire, Shogun, The Pillars of the Earth, The Source, Druids). Three (3) other books by the authors of these books were also on the list. PABBIS has not yet reviewed the other books on this list, but will do so.

So it looks as if your rising 9th grader might encounter some pretty graphic material while doing their first high school assignment. At Westfield High School and other high schools in Fairfax County. PABBIS wishes this were "just a library issue", but unfortunately these controversial books are also well entrenched in the FCPS curriculum.

Keeping books like this in school and not providing Upfront Informed Parental Consent violates our parental rights and values

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25 June 2001

The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follet one of the books on the PABBIS website was subject to a challenge in Fairfax County, VA Public Schools (FCPS). This book has extremely graphic descriptions of sex and violence. A character requiring violence to become sexually excited, oral sex, multiple rapes, gang rapes, tortures, a boys earlobes being cut off while he was forced to watch his sister being raped by two men, etc. This is just a small sample of the controversial material in this book. See elsewhere on this site for further description of controversial material.

In a small victory on June 25 2001, the FCPS Board voted to limit this book to grades 10 - 12 in the high school library. Supposedly, no further use of this book in the curriculum would be allowed. The fact that this book was actually being used in the curriculum was acknowledged despite previous statements by the schools, and some school board members, that this book was "only a library issue". During the meeting it was noted that this book went home just this month on summer homework lists in at least 3 schools.

In a lengthy discussion board members expressed their opinions on the before the vote. Some of the board members who supported a position of unlimited use seemed extremely arrogant in the position, that despite extremely controversial material, and state laws and county school regulations to the contrary, parents did not need to be informed. And that they, and the schools, know what is best for your child. This gives PABBIS great concern.

Stuart Gibson, spoke so glowingly of the book it seemed he was ready to insert it as required core curriculum reading in all grades and schools. In support of the book, but really damning it with faint praise, he said there are "more pages devoted to architecture than sex". And in a hard to follow statement he seemed to relate the book's hangings somehow to the current issue of capital punishment. PABBIS is not sure that there is a capital punishment section in the Virginia required curriculum but will investigate. In a typical remark PABBIS hears, Gibson also compared the material in this book to that in the Bible, however another school board member seemed to challenge him to find anything anywhere near as graphic. Gibson correctly said that the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) supports having a child reading another book when there is a parental concern, but neglected to point out what the NCTE also says. The NCTE also says a book rationale should be done prior to book selection and that special emphasis should be placed on controversial material so that parents know when to select an alternative book. See Upfront Informed Parental Consent section of this site for more details. For his bottom line Gibson said he didn't think the book viewed as whole was legally obscene and seemed to imply that this makes it ok for your child. This gives PABBIS great concern since some parent's standards on reading material for their children are quite a bit higher than this. Gibson finished his remarks by placing the fault with parents, not with the schools, saying, "Lack of parental involvement is the problem." PABBIS agrees partially with him on that remark. We intend to get a lot more parents aware and involved about this book issue. However we don't think responsibility lies with parents to somehow omnisciently know what is in every book their child may be exposed to at school.

Mychele Brickner spoke of her grave concerns with this book and said system now makes parents who use the challenge process "feel like they re doing something improper, when it is really the book." She said the staff was not understanding of challenges. She twice expressed concern about this book going home in summer work packets, and asked how these packets would be modified to reflect the no curriculum use decision. Jane Srauss twice told her that parents would be informed, but was evasive as to how. Letter, telephone or what? PABBIS will continue to monitor this situation.

Gary Reese stated he thought the sex in the book was at times gratuitous and had vivid, vulgar details. He noted that this would not be allowed in a non-fiction history book and didn't understand why it was ok in a historical fantasy novel (supposedly to teach history). Reese questioned the age appropriateness of the book for high school.

Robert Frye noted that the staff needed more guidance on book selection/use policies. PABBIS agrees with this but also notes it would help if first the ones already in place were followed.

See below news (01 May 2001) on the petition for book selection standards of decency. There are almost 1200 signatures on this petition now and more are coming in every day. Four parents spoke about this issue to the school board on June 21 2001 and their remarks will be placed on this site soon in a late news story. PABBIS is hearing that the school board is delaying the standards issue until October. Why?

Rita Thompson said the Virginia State Code has charged the board with moral responsibility for school literature selection. Thompson said she found the book pornographic, encouraging of sexual abuse and particularly offensive to females. She said it was disturbing that some school board members seemed to think it was ok since outside of the schools "they will be exposed to it anyway." That did not seem like very high standards to her. Thompson also noted that even our librarians don't have time to read every book and that "we have a responsibility to let parents know what their children are reading."

Christian Braunlich said that the issue was not about literature but entertaining students. He expressed concern about the whole book selection procedure and indicated that to him there seemed to be no process and it was all ad-hoc. Braunlich said the goal of some school board members seemed to be not to exclude what a few children want to read, but noted that we do it every day. He said we should have higher standards than grocery stores.

Judith Wilson noted that although Dr. Domenech (FCPS Superintendent) said that this book would come off the recommended and required lists she was concerned about whether or not this would really happen.

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Thanks to the following FCPS Board members who voted to limit use of this book in the schools:

Christian N. Braunlich, Lee District, 703-246-4789, christian.braunlich@fcps.edu

Mychele B. Brickner, At Large, 703-246-4788, mychele.brickner@fcps.edu

Rita Thompson, At Large, 703-246-4774, rita.thompson@fcps.edu

Gary A. Reese, Sully District, 703-246-3062, gary.reese@fcps.edu

Robert E. Frye, At Large, 703-246-4779, robert.frye@fcps.edu

Jane K. Strauss, Dranesville District, 703-246-4780, jane.strauss@fcps.edu

Judith Wilson, Braddock District, 703-246-4781, tessie.wilson@fcps.edu

Note: The first four school board members above supported removal of the book entirely from county schools

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SHAME on the following FCPS Board representatives who voted to keep the book with unlimited use:

Cathy Belter, Springfield District, 703-246-4772, catherine.belter@fcps.edu

Isis Castro, Mount Vernon District, 703-246-4787, isis.castro@fcps.edu

Stuart D. Gibson, Hunter Mill District, 703-246-4786, stuart.gibson@fcps.edu

Ernestine C. Heastie, Providence District, 703-246-4783, ernestine.heastie@fcps.edu

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Keeping books like this in school and not providing Upfront Informed Parental Consent violates our parental rights and values

Call or email the above school board members and let them know what you think of their vote

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4 June 2001

PABBIS was on the Islamic Perspectives on Life Issues radio show
with host Mr. Shaker Elsayed (WWTL - 700AM)


PABBIS had the opportunity to increase awareness in the Islamic community about book issues in FCPS by the talk show and PABBIS appreciates the invite. A Fairfax County School Board representative, also on the show, indicated that the FCPS 2001 Suggested Summer Reading Lists were now out on the FCPS website. A review of the new 9-12th grade reading lists revealed that fifteen (15) books had been removed from the FCPS 2000 Suggested Summer Reading List. All of the removed books were featured on PABBIS. A coincidence? Not likely. The following books were removed:

Bless Me, Ultima
Shogun
The King Must Die
The Source
The Moves Make the Man
Thousand Pieces of Gold
Paula
How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents
Kindred
Sophie's World
Snow Falling On Cedars
Stones From The River
The Bean Trees
The Things They Carried
I Been In Sorrows Kitchen and Licked all the Pots

All FCPS Suggested Summer Reading List books are indicated as so, with marks on the book jacket, in Fairfax County Public Libraries. Be aware that it may take the county library some time to update these markings to reflect the FCPS 2001 Suggested Summer Reading Lists rather than the previous years.

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14 May 2001

Thanks to EducationNews.org for listing PABBIS as a "Site of the Week" for the week of 14 May 2001. EducationNews.org is the world's leading source of education news.

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13 May 2001

An email (edited with author's approval) received at PABBIS on "The Giver". It is very typical of the email we receive about a parents encounter with a "bad book":

Thank you all very much for the work you do. I have a 4th grader in a FCPS. We had believed the school system understood a fourth grader is about 10 years old in every sense of that term. There does not seem to be a great deal of competent oversight of reading selection, nor any real standardization of literature selection options for various age groups.

In late September, my fourth grader began reading (in class and aloud) "The Giver". I was unfamiliar with the book until my daughter started mentioning some of the scenes from the book over the dinner table. Since we hadn't yet explained wet dreams or dreams of sexual fantasy to our nine year old, I truly did not believe what I was hearing. So, in the following letter, I asked to see for myself.

Mrs. Teacher,

[Our daughter] has been discussing the book "The Giver" with us.Between what seems like the Orwellian / Maoist social structure, a scene about what sounds like wet dreams and pills designed to eliminate sexual urges, this strikes me as relatively mature and provocative material for fourth graders. However, I prefer to see for myself. Our daughter informs me that the children are prohibited from bringing "The Giver" home. Perhaps you are unwilling to risk losing one of the texts, but with the exception of certain, limited reference materials, I think you would agree that parents should have the opportunity to review the material their children learn in school. Please allow her to bring home a copy of "The Giver" for my wife and I to read this weekend. Thanks for your help,

-------------------------------------------------------

It just happened that on the day I sent the above letter, I was scheduled to do some copying for the teacher. While I was there, she assured me that I had gotten the wrong impression of the book, and she cheerfully provided me with a copy. Reassured by her statement, and calmed by her eager cooperation, I took my time getting started on "The Giver". However, when I finished the book, I wished I had acted sooner. I quickly wrote the following note the next morning, with a "cc" to the school principal, in hopes of getting a detailed explanation and a 180 degree correction of the glaring error in judgment prompting the assignment of this book.

-------------------------------------------------------

Mrs. Teacher,

Thank you for your help in providing a copy of "The Giver" for my wife and I to read. My wife is not quite finished, and I have just finished. What a powerful, well-written story! As literature, I enjoyed it a lot. It brought back memories of books I read in high school as I thought of Winston in George Orwell's "1984", the Eloi in "The Time Machine", and the unraveling horror of "Soylent Green". However, my concerns that fourth graders are reading this book are deeper now than when I asked you to provide me with a copy. Honestly Mrs. Teacher, I am completely appalled that anyone responsible for the education and general guidance of nine and ten year olds would consider this appropriate material for that age group. As I consider our most appropriate response to this situation, I would appreciate you answering some questions for me:

1. Whose decision was it to provide "The Giver" as appropriate material?

2. Is the other teacher's class reading this book too?

3. Is this a system-wide Reading text for 4th grade?

4. How do you feel about this material for 4th graders?

5. How do you plan to deal with the children in relation to the moral and social issues in the book? (For example: Jonas watching his father kill an infant; The populace taking pills to suppress sexual urges as exemplified by the dream with Fiona, The Giver planning to "join" his

daughter Rosemary who had committed suicide, etc., etc, etc. as the list of mature moral issues is too extensive to enumerate).

6. How can I obtain a list of the other Reading texts planned for this class?

I would appreciate you contacting me with responses to these questions at your soonest convenience. Thanks for your help.

-------------------------------------------------------

[Our daughter's] teacher had been replaced by a substitute the Friday that this letter went in, so I hoped for a response on Monday. As that weekend wore on, I became increasingly angry that my daughter was sitting in a classroom of nine and ten year old children as they read "The Giver" aloud, and I hadn't known a thing about it. So, I got my classroom directory out and spent the weekend calling every single household in my child's classroom. A few parents thought the book was perfectly fine for their kids. One of those parents had actually given it to their child before the school year. The great majority of the parents were unaware that their children were reading "The Giver", and the few who did know were unaware of the maturity of the content. As I explained the book's theme and its more provocative elements, most parents were angry and incredulous. Many asked me what they should do. I suppose I could have organized a Parents With Pitchforks Brigade to meet with the principal Monday morning. However, I told each parent that I only sought to tell them what I wished I had known before the book was introduced into our children's curriculum, and that they should each respond as they saw fit.

The following Monday came and went. No response that Tuesday either. By Wednesday, I was becoming impatient and called the principal, but she was unavailable. By Thursday, I just decided to wait until I went in to do some copying for the teacher to status the response to my concern. After copying the teacher's work, the children were to go to PE or something, and the teacher mentioned that she would like to take a few minutes to discuss my concerns, and by the way the reading resource teacher may sit in to help answer my questions. Then we were also joined by the librarian, and finally by the Vice Principal (apparently the actual principal has a "hands off" style). What I thought would be an informal conversation with the teacher became a four-to-one defense against my perception of "The Giver" as grossly inappropriate for 4th graders. Even now, I still find it impossible to understand how I could be sitting in a room with four professional "educators" who were all respectful of my point of view, but actually defended this as appropriate material for these kids! From my point of view, it's not even a close call.

Their primary concern seemed to revolve around whether I might call for the book to be banned (they used another educatorese term for it that I cannot recall now). Banning hadn't occurred to me. I really thought that this had been a terrible mistake, and having brought it to their attention they would smack themselves on the forehead, apologize profusely and correct the situation immediately. How naive was my faith in them! Their solution was to remove my daughter from the class while the book was being read, and provide her with alternative materials to work on independently. Under the pressure and confusion that I felt in that situation, that seemed to be an acceptable solution while I worked to get my daughter out of there and into a good school.

That afternoon, I got a call back from another concerned parent with a child in the same class. When I described the meeting of that morning, she recognized it right away. "You got ambushed. They knew you were coming in to volunteer, and arranged their schedules so they could all sit you down and minimize the damage." Apparently, in response to another complaint, they were going to isolate another girl along with my daughter. Over the next week, apparently as complaints rolled in, they did end up pulling the book. But, it was like pulling teeth: What I had firmly believed at the outset would be a quick, apologetic correction with a subsequent review of the curriculum and content selection process ended up as pure damage control. It's disgusting.

We have recently gotten verbal acceptance of my daughter's application to a parochial school. We look forward to the change, as we've not been all that impressed with FCPS GT.It's hard to blame the schools really. Most parents don't know, or don't care. Sad to say, but it's day care with grades. Some people seem to think I'm walking away from my civic duty to help improve the public education system. I disagree. My children aren't fodder for trendy edusocial experiments, and we will see to it that they get the best education within our means. Nevertheless, I am grateful that there are folks like you fighting the good fight. Those children will be running the country when we are too old to do anything about it.Good Luck.

-------------------------------------------------------

NOTE from PABBIS: We get a lot of email on this book. "The Giver" by Lois Lowry is the 11th most challenged book of the 1990's. Age inappropriate use (too young) is a big complaint. See article at: http://www.crossroad.to/text/articles/sgw1196.html on this book. Some reasons this book is challenged are:

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01 May 2001

A PETITION is being circulated in Fairfax County, Virginia that requests the School Board develop a policy to protect children from inappropriate books.
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The petition reads as follows:

"Warning: the young adult books that kids are reading may contain language and situations unsuitable for young readers."(Washington Post, March 11 2001, front page).

Many parents are unaware of the content of books their children are assigned to read in school. R-rated movies are not allowed in Fairfax County Public Schools, but books that are more explicit than some R-rated movies are permitted. Assigned novels have included graphic descriptions of sexual acts, murder, rape, prostitution, abortion, bestiality, necrophilia, child molestation, and torture of animals and people.

We the undersigned petition the Fairfax County School Board to develop a policy that will protect children from inappropriate reading material in our schools and set a standard to prohibit literature with disturbing, offensive, sexually explicit, "pervasively vulgar", or "educationally unsuitable" content. (U.S. Supreme Court in Board of Education v. Pico)

For more information or to obtain a copy of the petition e-mail: knicholls@mstar2.net.

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26 March 2001

In Not your father's librarian, a March 26 2001 column in The Washington Times discussing the American Library Association's challenging a law that would deny federal funds to public libraries that fail to install Internet filters on their computers, columnist Mona Charen makes the following observations:

"..though most human beings with a modicum of common sense recognize that a public library is not the kind of place for pornography of any kind, a majority of the opinion-shaping elite emphatically disagrees and shouts "censorship.""

"If a child walked into an elementary school carrying.. Hustler, he would be disciplined and the First Amendment would not be compromised. Yet an effort to make sure that the same child cannot, in a school library or after school at a public library, have access to that and worse on a computer screen is called unconstitutional. OK, if kids have full First Amendment rights, why not give them full Second Amendment rights and permit them to come to school carrying (guns)"

See http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/commentary-2001326185445.htm for the full column.

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23 March 2001

In No more sex, please: A fight to temper suggestive magazines, a March 23 2001 editorial in The Washington Times discussing X-rated subtitles and the "forced gauntlet of sex" at supermarket check-out lines, editorial writer Diana West makes the following observations:

"..magazine cover lines remain emphatically tasteless to the point of being unquotable in (the) newspaper..."

"...it becomes clear, once again, that it's much harder to restore a sense of order and place to a society than it ever was to abolish them. But that doesn't mean it isn't well worth the effort."

See http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/ed-column-2001323184529.htm for the full editorial.

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11 March 2001

The Wrong Question, a March 11 2001 commentary in The Washington Times by Thomas Sowell discussing school shootings made the following observations:

"...most people are unaware of how much of the breakdown of morality is not just a happenstance, but is part of a decades-long systematic undermining of moral norms by the schools themselves. There are educational gurus whose books and packaged programs have been put into schools across the country, devoted to counteracting the morality taught to children by their parents with fads that used to be called "values clarification" and which now go by a variety of names. .... The time is long overdue for parents and voters to stop buying the education establishment's line, and get the public schools out of the business of indoctrinating students or using them as guinea pigs. But parents who themselves received a dumbed-down education, garnished with psychobabble, may not be equipped to understand what is wrong with what is being done to their children or to have the backbone to be "judgmental" about it. But if the fetish of being non-judgmental means more to you than your children, then what kind of parent are you?"

See http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/commentary-200131195138.htm for the full commentary.

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11 March 2001

"Warning: the young adult books that kids are reading may contain language and situations unsuitable for young readers." That is the first line from Books That May Make Parents Blush, by Linton Weeks, a front-page story in the Sunday, March 11 2001 edition of The Washington Post. The story says teen-fiction is:

"frothing over with the same sorts of adult situations, salty language and suicide themes found in movies and television shows and popular songs.

For example, this from "Dreamland," a 1999 Viking Book for Young Readers by Sarah Dessen: "The Rogerson kissing me or stroking my stomach couldn't be the same one who lashed out so easily, who pushed me up against walls or smacked me . . .

"It got to be that sex was the only time I could count on being safe. And it never lasted long enough.

"Then we'd be driving, stoned, on our way somewhere . . ."

Flip through a slew of recent hardback novels aimed at young folks and you'll find scenes even more graphic. Tools once used only by storytellers for adults and adult sensibilities are now used to craft stories for teenagers and younger readers. Lust, hatred, horror, darkness, dysfunction, drugs, disease and gruesome death permeate young adult literature. Eminem, "American Pie" and MTV's "Undressed" have got nothing on contemporary teen fiction. Except that they're rated for sex and violence, and books are not. ................ Here's an excerpt from "Plunking Reggie Jackson" by James W. Bennett, a brand-new novel in the Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers series, marketed to "Ages 12 up": "They made love on his bed, after practice, when the house was empty. Bree's lean body might have suggested adolescence, but there was nothing juvenile about her manner of participation in the sex act. She was as focused and fearless in the pursuit of her passion as any grown woman. Since she was only fifteen, Coley wanted to believe in her innocence, but it wouldn't be easy. In the heat of the moment he didn't even remember to use a condom."

Against a traditional high school sports backdrop, Bennett weaves a tale of incest, abuse and deceit sprinkled with Anglo-Saxon cuss words not suitable for a family newspaper.

And this from last year's "When Kambia Elaine Flew In From Neptune," a novel about physical abuse by Lori Aurelia Williams: "Mama and Tia got into a fight this morning. Mama found a package of red condoms in the back of Tia's drawer. Mama was really pissed off. She held the condoms up and shouted at Tia so loud the dead folks at Peaceful Rest Cemetery down the street could hear her."

See http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52148-2001Mar10.html for the full story.

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8 March 2001

On March 8 2001, a parent addressed the Fairfax County Public School Board with the following remarks about books used in the IB program:

Dr. Domenech, Chairman Strauss and members of the School Board. I come before you this evening to call your attention to a serious matter and raise awareness in the community. Can we blindly trust our school faculty and administrators to choose appropriate books for our children? Parents, if you think the answer is "yes," it is time for you to open your eyes. In the 11th grade IB English program at South Lakes High School students are required to read books from a list published by the IB Organization. Apparently, the books are pre-selected by a school administrator and then the students are told what they will be reading for class discussion. The students have been informed that these books have been chosen because they are written by famous international authors. I will describe three of these assigned books of fiction to you so you can know how Fairfax County taxpayer dollars are being spent to influence our children.

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea, by Yukio Mishima. This book is about a 12-year old Japanese boy who is able to spy into his widowed mother's bedroom through a hole in the wall. He is able to see her having sex with her sailor boyfriend. The mother makes plans to marry the sailor. The boy and his friends discuss how much they hate "fathers" and they plot to kill the sailor. They experiment on a kitten, torturing and mutilating it. By the end of the book, they have drugged the sailor, brandished a knife and are donning rubber gloves to kill him. The book is full of graphic and vulgar descriptions of sexual acts and violence.

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende is about a South American family during a revolutionary period. The book contains sickeningly graphic details of sexual acts, rape, physical abuse, torture and killing of animals and people, bestiality (sex with animals), child molestation, drug use, prostitution, and necrophilia (sex with a dead body). This vulgar and perverted content is pervasive throughout the book.

Chronicles of a Death Foretold. This book focuses on murderous revenge. An engaged woman sleeps with another man, thus losing her fianc? and her two angry brothers plot and carry out the man's murder.

I think we have to question the wisdom and the motivation of any institution or organization which deliberately chooses to not only suggest this material for our children, but actually requires them to read it. Why does the IBO have books like this on the list at all? Even if children were allowed to select alternate books, this still puts the pressure on the student when the adults are the ones being paid to use good judgment in teaching.
Why has Fairfax County school administration invited this influence into our children's schools? What kind of world are our children being prepared for? Are these books a necessary tool? How many of our other IB schools are reading this material, or other selections similar to them? We have IB in middle schools and even elementary. Do they have similar books to read? Is this really EDUCATION? Or is it an attempt to undermine parentally instilled values?or worse, is it the outright mental abuse of children?
Here in Fairfax County, parents need to start asking the tough questions, for the sake of the kids.

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20 February 2001

$500 Million federal funds for school library books?

The story Ballerina openings in the February 20 2001 Inside the Beltway column in The Washington Times by John McCaslin was very interesting (http://www.washtimes.com/national/inbeltway.htm.)

It is about legislation introduced by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) to provide $500 Million to school libraries for new books. Except for the fact the) $500 million for new school library books is paid by from taxpayer money there is little, at first glance, anyone could be against.

However, upon further consideration there are some very serious concerns. First, why is this a federal function? Why not state or local funding and control as typical for schools? Must the reach of the federal government always grow? After this bill perhaps all school districts will consider purchase of school library books a federal responsibility.

Second, exactly what kind of books will be purchased with these federal funds? Bipartisan legislation sounds good but read the column by Peter Ferrara Picking up the tab for smut, also in the February 20 2001 edition (http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/commentary-200122017952.htm.)

Will federal dollars now go to put smut in our school libraries? What might these funds be used to purchase? Books with oral sex, brutal rapes, gang rapes, two men raping a woman at once, pedophilia, masturbation, extremely graphic violence, torture, linking of sexual excitement with violence, homosexuality, urinating on holy books, necrophilia, obscenities, vulgar language, and other foul stuff.

I'm sure Sen. Jack Reed (Rhode Island, D) and Sen. Thad Cochran (Mississippi, R) have the best of intentions for the school children. However, without some standards of decency in book selection it is very hard to support this proposed legislation. We suggest language be inserted to limit use of this funding to non-fiction books. However, we all know money is fungible.

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15 February 2001

News from Newport Beach, Costa Mesa in the Times Community Newspapers:

District checks into book review policy-- After uproar at meeting over controversial novels, trustees will examine how texts are approved. The novels "Of Love and Shadows," by South American author Isabel Allende, "Snow Falling on Cedars," by David Guterson, and "The French Lieutenant's Woman," by John Fowles, as well as the textbook "Sociology and You," by Jon L. Sheppard and Robert W. Greene, were approved by a 5-2 vote. But the battle of the books won't stop there"

Seewww.latimes.com/communities/news/newport_beach_metro/20010215/tdp0016144.html for the full story.

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15 February 2001

Ratings for school books?

A February 15 2001 article in the Fairfax Journal (Fairfax County, VA) called for a school book rating system:

"... even Hollywood, no bastion of restraint, realizes that some things should not be seen by children. Hence the movie ratings system. Schools need a similar book ratings system. Parents cannot read every book in a school library to make sure their children are not reading anything inappropriate, and they shouldn't have to."

See15.02.2001 Fairfax Journal OPINION PAGE 8 A for the complete story.

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15 February 2001

Our organization received quite a boost due to media publicity in:

The Washington Times (Feb 12 2001)

The Armstrong Williams Show (Feb 12 2001)

The Victoria Jones Show, WMAL (Feb 13 2001)

The G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show (Feb 14 2001)

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We received a lot of emails supportive of what we are doing and thanking us for providing information to help protect children. Please continue to let others know about the

Parents Against Bad Books In Schools

website

Please let us know about any book challenges or issues in your schools. We will post this information so that others can become more aware and knowledgeable.


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13 February 2001

Druids, Morgan Llywelyn one of the books on our website was subject to a challenge in Fairfax County, VA Public Schools (FCPS). This book has graphic descriptions of sex, oral sex, "sex magic", and the main character wanting to rape. On February 13 2001, the FCPS Board voted to allow this book to continue to be used in all grades of high school.

This means students as young as 14 will continue to be exposed to this book without parental consent.

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A big thanks to the following FCPS Board members who voted to remove the book from the schools:

Christian N. Braunlich, Lee District, 703-246-4789,                 christian.braunlich@fcps.edu

Mychele B. Brickner, At Large, 703-246-4788,                       mychele.brickner@fcps.edu

Rita Thompson, At Large, 703-246-4774,                  ? rita.thompson@fcps.edu

Also thanks to the FCPS Board student representative (non-voting) who spoke out in support of the books removal:

Christopher Giovarelli, Student Representative, 703-246-4784,                      ? board@fcps.edu

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SHAME on the following FCPS Board representatives who voted to keep the book:

Cathy Belter, Springfield District, 703-246-4772,                     catherine.belter@fcps.edu

Isis Castro, Mount Vernon District, 703-246-4787,                ? isis.castro@fcps.edu

Robert E. Frye, At Large, 703-246-4779,                  ? robert.frye@fcps.edu

Stuart D. Gibson, Hunter Mill District, 703-246-4786,            ? stuart.gibson@fcps.edu

Ernestine C. Heastie, Providence District, 703-246-4783,                     ernestine.heastie@fcps.edu

Kaye Kory, Mason District, 703-246-4785,                 kaye.kory@fcps.edu

Jane K. Strauss, Dranesville District, 703-246-4780,              ? jane.strauss@fcps.edu

Judith Wilson, Braddock District, 703-246-4781,                     tessie.wilson@fcps.edu

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Keeping books like this in school and not providing Upfront Informed Parental Consent violates our parental rights and values.

Call or email the above school board members and let them know what you think of their vote.


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PABBIS READER REQUESTS YOUR HELP

I need to write school library selection guidelines for the private school our middle school daughter attends. The high school and middle school share a library. The librarian selects the books without any guidelines, and many of the fiction books are objectionable due to explicit sexual content, foul language, etc.

I need a sample or form of library book selection guidelines. I would like to know what schools concerned with values have done. I have seen the liberal, anything goes library guidelines on some of your links. Your Sample Book Review Documentation Form with your Upfront-Informed Parental Consent material could be incorporated into the book selection guidelines. Gateways to Better Education and Family Friendly Libraries have good information, but not any examples.

Many concerned parents could use such a master form in their own schools. It would be a wonderful, useful tool to have on the PABBIS website. Could you please post this request to your website in the hope that some reader will be able to provide me a sample. Thank You.

If you can help please email the information to us here at PABBIS and we will forward it.


SOME THOUGHTS FROM PABBIS

Thanks for your suggestions on how to have a better, more user friendly website. We are a small organization but will endeavor to make these improvements and keep you informed to the best of our abilities.

Apologies from

Parents Against Bad Books In Schools

for not being able to answer all your questions on bad books. Some of our links provide excellent information on book selection, most challenged books, reasons why, etc.

Regarding questions on what are good books for various age children: This site focuses solely on books with controversial and potentially inappropriate material. There are more than enough of them for us to address at this time. Perhaps one day.

Please let others know about PABBIS by your postings in forums, chat rooms, and discussion groups on the internet.

Support elected officials that help you protect your children. Vote out those that violate your parental rights.

Yes, some of the material from these books may be quite offensive to read. But then again that is the whole point. Our children are reading this in school. We must not hide from the truth of exactly what is in these books.

Again, remember that bad is not for us to decide. A bad book for your child is what you determine is bad. Not us here at PABBIS, not the schools, not the government, not elected officials. ONLY the parent.

Fight for book selection standards of decency. Fight for Upfront Informed Parental Consent.

Without Upfront Informed Parental Consent the only option open to a parent is to challenge the book after the fact. If you even find out your child read it. After your child read it. And when someone challenges a book they are called a censor. Hmmmm.

A book with graphic descriptions of sex, oral sex, "sex magic", and the main character wanting to rape is voted OK by the School Board in Fairfax County, VA. I wonder what book wouldn't be OK. Is anything and everything OK?

And finally, a special thanks to those with private, parochial, or home schooled children. Yes, things seem to be much worse in the public schools for standards of decency in book selection. Your emails of support and concern for the public school children are admirable.


Click here for more Pabbis News Archives

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email:  pabbis@pabbis.com

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