An unsigned editorial in the Pensacola News Journal decries the decision of a local high-school teacher to cancel the school's One School/One Book summer reading program to stop students from reading my novel Little Brother. They point out that the principal violated school procedures when he took it upon himself to unilaterally cancel the assignment, and that this is both inappropriate as an educational matter and from the perspective of free speech and free inquiry. It's a great editorial, and it rightly emphasizes the bravery of English department head Mary Kate Griffith, who has fought valiantly over this issue.
We can't stress enough the importance of helping young minds decide for themselves their political beliefs, their values and their view of the world. That can best be developed through reading, especially as teens.
In emails, Roberts' wrote that the book "is about questioning authority" and shows questioning authority "as a positive thing."
It is a positive thing when done appropriately. Questioning authority ended segregation, got women the right to vote and earned our freedom from British tyranny.
Books that provoke or inspire teens to challenge authority are as important as those that don't. To critically examine governmental authority is to build a strong society. The goal of education is not simply to make good students, after all. The greater point is to produce good citizens. How glaring that a principal abused his authority over a book with the theme of government intrusion.
When books get attacked, it's really freedom of thought that's under attack. That may be acceptable in China, but not in a free society like ours — especially in a classroom.
We don't fear books [Pensacola News Journal]