The Throwing Food | Controversial books remain in Rockwood libraries despite challenges

The six contested books have at least one copy in the Lafayette school library. These data show How Much Crank by Ellen Hopkins, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and John Green’s Looking for Alaska has been viewed by LHS students this year and in total since the books entered the library. Graphic by Jack Daws.

Although some challenges criticized similar topics in the books, each challenge was assessed separately by separate committees.

In addition to the various libraries in the Rockwood School District, each book is also available at many public libraries in St. Louis as well as libraries in St. Louis County.

The concerns of each contested book, along with details of the committee’s comments and rationale, are included below.

Not all boys are blue

Not all boys are blue by George M. Johnson was published on April 28, 2020. The book consists of a collection of essays detailing Johnson’s maturity as a black man and LGBTQ +.

The challenger argued for the book’s explicit sexual content, specifically the depictions of “explicit sexual acts, positions, sexual assault, sodomy, incest, and sexual abuse.”

“The problem isn’t with the perpetrator, it’s the sex scenes,” said the challenger. “It’s up to parents to determine what their children can read. The only way to be sure is to remove these types of books from the library.

The committee decided not to remove the book or add any restrictions. Their comments indicated that they found the book useful as a description of a specific minority experience that could help those facing challenges similar to those of the author.

A member of the committee said: “[The author’s] The purpose in writing the book was to tell his story to help those who might have go through some of the same experiences as him. “

As for the abuses described in the book, the committee clarified that the author condemned the acts of his attacker.

One member read in the book: “I want to reiterate that his actions were wrong and that I was a victim. Hold your abuser to account. “

Committee members also said the post was important for students who may have suffered similar abuse, providing a novel that can help teach students to understand their own situation.


In Crank by Ellen Hopkins, published in 2004, a high school student is introduced to drugs and becomes addicted, leading her down a dangerous path, where she later becomes pregnant as a result of sexual assault while under the influence of Drugs.

The challenger mainly criticized the inclusion of scenes depicting drug use and said: “The perpetrator appears to encourage these activities.”

In the committee’s rationale for its decision, one member said, “I did not find this glorifying at all. It is an edifying tale.

Homosexual gender

Homosexual gender by Maia Kobabe is a graphic novel that depicts the coming of age and adulthood of a character as a non-binary, asexual person. It was released on May 28, 2019.

Five different challenge forms have been submitted for this book. The main criticism was that the challengers believed that certain images in the book qualified as pornography.

One challenger said: “Students become curious and become more sexually active when exposed to this type of material. The book doesn’t teach abstinence like Rockwood should.

However, the committee found that the contents of the book did not constitute pornography.

“For something to be considered pornography, its sole purpose must be to please and sexually arouse. This book was not intended to be erotic or entertaining, but to be used as information. It was not used to arouse. It does not meet the criteria for pornography. These are normal thoughts of adolescent sexuality, ”said a committee member.

The committee also felt that the “benefits outweighed the concerns” when it came to Homosexual gender.

“I look at the book and think if my child had these questions about himself, I would like him to read it,” said one member.

In search of Alaska

In search of Alaska by John Green was released on March 3, 2005. It tells the story of a student at an Alabama residential school who gets involved in a world of pranks as well as drug addiction and sexual activity. The story centers on the tragic death of Alaska, a crush on the main character, and whether his death in a drunk driving accident was accidental or a form of suicide.

The challenger criticized the inclusion of alcohol, tobacco, casual sex, drunk driving and suicide.

“The author knows no bounds,” said the challenger.

In response to the claim that the book had pornographic content, a committee member said, “None of the sex scenes were arousing or designed in any way to arouse someone, which is the case. purpose of porn. “

One of the reasons the committee enjoyed the book was its description of the grief and trauma in response to Alaskais death.

One member said, “I lost a very good friend in high school. They left a party and got killed and it brought me back to that. I realized that I was trying to figure out why all this time and that coming back now and reviewing what I was going through during this time was refreshing to see. This is how you cry. If I had found this at a younger age it would have been even more useful.

Not all boys are blue by George M. Johnson, The Haters by Jesse Andrews and Where I End and You Begin by Preston Norton are disputed books available in the LHS library. Graphic by Jack Daws.

The enemies

The enemies by Jesse Andrews, published May 23, 2016, tells the story of three musicians from a prestigious jazz camp who flee to form a band and tour the country.

The challenger claimed the book was “sexually explicit and child pornographic”, criticized the “foul” language, as well as a scene depicting rape, in which a character was too drugged to consent to sexual activity.

A member of the committee stressed the importance of a black character who had been adopted by a white family, a type of character “not often depicted in the books.”

The committee member also said, “I saw alcohol rape as a warning about what could happen if you drink too much. The friend stopped him when he got too far.

Where i end and where you start

Where i end and where you start by Preston Norton, posted on June 4, 2019, focuses on two teenage boys, Ezra and Wynonna, who each have a crush on each other’s best friend, accidentally swap bodies and consider using the situation to help each other out. to court their respective crushes. The couple, who blamed each other at the start, ended up developing a close bond.

The challenger said, “The dialogue in this book contains foul language” and “There are references to private parts and sexual acts”.

The book was nominated for the Gateway Readers’ Award for the 2021-22 school year, and pThe art of criticism centered around a teacher in Rockwood having students read two books from the list of nominees for the award, although those books are not on the list of books approved by the RSD. 6-12 for class work. The teacher has since changed the assignment to include more books from the approved list.

Despite criticism, the committee felt that the book should remain in libraries without restriction.

“The concerns about value don’t really match up. The concern is with the language and not with the actual content of the book. The value far outweighs the concern, ”said one member.

About Joey J. Hott

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