Columbia County removes book from elementary schools

By: Diane Cho
By: Diane Cho

A hot topic at Tuesday's Columbia County School Board meeting was a controversial book in elementary school libraries.

At the meeting on April 25, parents presented a list of dirty words in a book they say is "vulgar".

Oddly enough, the award-winning book was written by a former elementary school teacher who has strong ties to the Presbyterian Church.

It's a slippery slope situation, censoring books in schools, but board members finally closed the chapter on this controversial debate.

River Ridge Elementary School parents Danny and Veronica Lack came to board members with a rundown of every profane or objectionable reference used in the book "The Same Stuff As Stars".

The Lacks made the list after learning their third grader checked out the book that's designed for middle grade readers.

Some of their concerns include quotes like, "hell's bells" or "last time ever have to view this hell hole again."

School board member Regina Buccafusco doesn't think all of the references were out of line.

"Some of the references the mother made was fear of abandonment, rejection. The story is tragic and so is 'Bambi'," she said.

She says she'd be okay with the book sitting on elementary school shelves as long as only older students could check it out.

And that's exactly what the reconsideration committee decided.

The committee said, "The harsh language used by the author was for the purpose of character development."

The book is on the School Library Journal's Best Books for Young Readers for 2002.

But that's not good enough for board member Roxanne Whittaker.

"I wouldn't want my child talking like that, and at the same time we're saying, 'Well it's okay to read those words to me'," Whittaker says.

"The irony is that the committee is made up of media specialists, teachers, and you think they're the most conservative, the librarians, and we voted to be more conservative," says Buccafusco.

The board decided to go ahead and remove the book from the elementary schools in Columbia County and keep it on middle school shelves, agreeing that if a fourth or fifth grade student really wanted to read the book, they could go to the public library to do so.

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