A California school district kicked off Banned Books Week by banning a book from one of its own libraries.
The Riverside Unified School District’s book reconsideration committee voted 6-1 on Monday to pull three copies of “The Fault In Our Stars” from the middle school library after a parent complained about its subject matter, reported the Los Angeles Register.
Parent Karen Krueger told the committee – which is comprised of teachers, parents, a principal, librarian, and an instructional services specialist – the book was inappropriate for younger teens and preteens because of its crude language and sexual content.
Krueger told the committee she didn’t want to “come off as a prude,” but she thought the 2012 novel by John Green should be made available for checkout at the school only with parental consent.
“I just didn’t think it was appropriate for an 11-, 12-, 13-year-old to read,” Krueger said. “I was really shocked it was in a middle school.”
Julie Boyes, a parent and committee member who voted against banning the book, said the book attempted to depict the anger a 16-year-old girl might feel or the choices she might make about sex if she were dying of cancer.
Students had requested the bestselling novel last year, shortly before a film adaptation, which was rated PG-13, was released in June.
Krueger complained about the book at that time after her daughter, who was then a seventh-grader along with her twin brother, brought the book home.
School officials told Krueger the book had to go through the district’s formal reconsideration process before it could be pulled from the shelves.
The novel will remain available at the district’s high school libraries, but schools will not be permitted to buy additional copies or accept them as donations.
The Los Angeles Register reported that 37 books have been challenged since 1988, but only one other had been banned before “The Fault In Our Stars.”
The 1974 Robert Cormier novel “The Chocolate War” was banned by the school district in 1996 after complaints about its depictions of sex, profanity, and violence by a secret school society, the newspaper reported.