If you’re a middle school student — or any student, really — you probably prefer reading a book that you chose instead of one your teacher chose for you. So, at Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois (not far from where I live), the English teachers include in their curriculum the opportunity for students to choose their own books to read, discuss, and analyze.
This past December, one group of students chose to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, a book (and popular movie) about a teenager named Charlie who has to deal with issues that are pretty heavy (and all too relatable) for any adolescent. It covers sex, suicide, drugs, crushes, and so much more — which is a large part of why so many students are drawn to it:
The district has a policy when it comes to books chosen by students, and the teachers let the parents know about it early in the school year. In essence, it says that parents have final say when it comes to their child’s independent reading: If parents feel a book is inappropriate, their child doesn’t have to read it. The teacher will then help the child find a different book. There’s no penalty for that, of course.
Sounds simple enough.
Because this particular book has some mature themes, the teacher told the students that they should get permission from their parents before tackling it, reinforcing the policy already in place.
That’s when one of the student’s parents flipped out.
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