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What books are appropriate?

Posted: November 13, 2009 10:01 p.m.
Updated: November 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.
“The Glass Castle” and “The Bean Trees” are assuredly inappropriate for a school setting, as so many before me have argued.

Removing these books from the reading list can be the only acceptable solution.

But students have to read something, and these books must be replaced. Now the problem becomes, what books should be recommended reading? “Oliver Twist” is out: Fagin is a Satanesque sodomite, Nancy a prostitute and Bill a domestic abuser who beats his live-in girlfriend to death before hanging himself.

Many of Jane Austen’s heroines sell themselves in marriage in a move akin to prostitution. Huck Finn uses racial slurs; Holden Caulfield hires a prostitute. Even Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland portrays a hookah-smoking caterpillar and mushrooms that have a curious effect on Alice’s body — drug imagery that students should not be exposed to.

I would recommend steering clear of “Fahrenheit 451,” for rather obvious reasons, and “1984” should be similarly avoided.

I could go on, but the point remains that most classic works of literature are sadly unacceptable for placement on a school reading list.

If administrators weed out all books that could be deemed inappropriate, I believe “Fun with Dick and Jane” will be the only thing left on library shelves — though, of course, Dick will have to change his name.


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