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School Removes Novel from Summer Reading Program Because It Questions Government Authority

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Rachel Blevins
Rachel Blevins is a journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives.

Pensacola, FL – Booker T. Washington High School has banned Little Brother from its summer reading program.

Little Brother is a novel by Cory Doctorow, in which, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, a group of four teenagers rebel against the Department of Homeland Security.

The National Coalition Against Censorship stated that Little Brother was selected for the summer reading program, “after an extensive process by the professional staff.” However, The American Free Speech Organization argued that the novel has been removed from the list, due to the fact that there were “concerns that some parents might object to scenes involving sex and violence and the idea of questioning authority.

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Author, Cory Doctorow took to his blog, Boingboing, to explain his actions. He wrote that the school’s principal, Dr. Michael Roberts, “cited reviews that emphasised the book’s positive view of questioning authority, lauding ‘hacker culture’, and discussing sex and sexuality in passing.” Doctorow went on to write that Roberts “made it clear that the book was being challenged because of its politics and its content.”

Doctorow also responded to the news by having his publisher, Tor, send 200 free copies of his novel to the students at Booker T. Washington High School. He wrote that he chose to do this, “because it’s the first school where any of my novels has been challenged by the school administration.”

Doctorow told The Guardian, “As the son of two state-school teachers, I know that most career educators have the best interests of their students at heart. I presume that the principal is a good person, but I think he’s wrong about this.”

After originally accepting Little Brother, the National Coalition Against Censorship wrote to Roberts to express concern about the decision, and to encourage reinstatement of the book. They wrote that “confronting controversial and complex themes in literature is part of the educational mission of the schools.

Doctorow defended his decision to make his novel available to the students, by saying, “I think that the students of Pensacola, Florida are every bit as robust and intellectually capable as their peers in the hundreds of classrooms where I’ve presented the book. I hope the principal will reconsider and give the kids the chance for a school-wide conversation about these important subjects.”

Doctorow concluded, “The right way to address controversial subjects is through discourse. Students and schools around the world have had fruitful discussions that started with Little Brother.”

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