Fla principal broke rules by cancelling summer read of Little Brother

You'll remember that my publisher sent 200 copies of Little Brother to Booker T Washington High School after the principal canceled the summer One Book/One School reading program because he was opposed to the book's "anti-authoritarian" message.

After conducting an investigation into a formal complaint from the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Escambia County School District's superintendent Malcolm Thomas has concluded that the school's principal did not follow the school's own procedure for evaluating challenges to books when he unilaterally canceled the program.

Disappointingly, the superintendent has cancelled all One School/One Book programs for the district in future. These programs are incredibly successful elsewhere, and prompt schoolwide conversations that can't be replicated any other way.

This reaction seems especially knee-jerk in light of the fact that, as far as I can tell, no parent actually complained about the One School/One Book assignment, and that the principal who did object to it had never read my book, and based his judgment solely on a few (positive!) reviews he found online.

Thomas: Policy not followed in ‘Little Brother’ dispute [Jamie Secola/Pensacola News Journal]

Notable Replies

  1. IMHO, anybody who wants to ban a book/game/etc... should prove that they have actually consumed said media first before calling for its banning. It seems to me that the vast majority of calls to ban a work come from people who hear that it is bad from a third party and then take up the mantle.

    While I don't think book bans are a good idea at all, if someone is going to do it I want them to at least be able to speak intelligently about the work and cite specific passages that they think should warrant a ban. Otherwise their argument boils down to "I demand the kids remain as ignorant as I am!"

  2. I may be overgeneralizing, but I get the impression that acts of this kind do not come from a rational state of mind, so therefore expecting a reasonable rationale precludes the act entirely.

    In other words, it's so much easier to come to a conclusion based on hearsay and speculation instead of facts and logic.

  3. Are you mad? Do you have any idea what a book like this could do to an authority figure? Let me tell you, bub, it's not pretty.

  4. Can I watch? How much are the tickets?

  5. It doesn't look like they're cancelling summer reading programs, just that they're not limiting those programs to one book.

    Thomas added that the district will no longer allow just one book to be assigned to an entire student body for summer reading.

    “What we want to do at the district is be very clear that there always needs to be multiple choices and multiple choices for each grade level,” he said.

    This is actually a great idea. Even the very best books won't appeal to all readers, and summer reading should be, first and foremost, enjoyable.

    So, not only did Cory's book bring attention to a bad, authoritarian principal, it has sparked a vital improvement in a summer reading program!

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