Monday, March 06, 2006

THE KITE RUNNER Under Fire

Parents in Indiana are upset over the inclusion of The Kite Runner in a freshman English class, in part because of a scene where a young boy is raped.
Julie Shake [one of the parents] has no problem with those themes. But the accountant and mother of three does not approve of the "very violent" scenes, including the rape of a boy, and occasional "vulgar" language.

"The point is timing," she said. "Is this age-appropriate? Is this the best youth literature available? We believe for 14- and 15-year-olds, there are better choices."

That cuts to the heart of her argument. "I have nothing to say about it as adult literature. We have asked the (School) Board that it not be taught to minors. That leaves it open for seniors."

The school will substitute another book for their child to read, but the Shakes are not mollified. No student younger than 18 should read the book, they believe.
Here's my take: if The Kite Runner, which is a very sensitive, thoughtful book, is not appropriate for high school students, then the daily newspaper, which often includes articles about child abuse, is not appropriate for high school students. And that, of course, is absurd.

These parents have every right to decide what their children can and can't read. They have absolutely no right to make that decision for everyone else.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me share with you how The Kite Runner was mis-used in my son's high school freshman reading class in Corpus Christi, Texas.

His reading teacher decided to use only excerpts from the novel to "enlighten and enrich" these mostly 14 year olds to the Islamic faith and culture and life in Afghanistan. The chapters selected have forever changed our lives, beginning with our son.

This teacher selected only chapters 1, 2, and 7 and provided the students with the photocopied chapters. Two and seven containing the most graphic and sexually explicit. They read along as she read aloud, sometimes being asked to read aloud themselves. Using only these selections grossly distorted the book and provided no resolution or redemption and did not "enlighten or enrich" any student's life.

You see, my son's name happens to rhyme with the name of the sodomizing rapist in chapter 7. Immediately after reading these excerpts, students began taunting my son (who is an Arab-American) asking him if he too was a sodomite and asking if this was a common practice among Muslims. They began referring to him as "Assef" (the rapist). The harassment escalated from there which included phone and internet harassment and terrorizing and finally resulted in physical violence. He ultimately received a Safety Transfer to another local high school.

We are seeking remedies with the school district regarding the teacher's selection of excerpts, however the damage is done.

Intellectual freedom, yes. Unintended use of selected excerpts without redeeming qualities, no.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was my highschool..and my english class. The daughter of the Shakes had no problem reading the book either. The mom is just a crazy person who trys to protect her daughter from the world.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Kite Runner was one of the best books i've ever read. Although it does have some controvercial issues, I think it is age approriate for high school students. This book taught me a lot. Im glad I got the chance to read it.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have currently banned the book, and I didnt realize it was banned until my english teacher told me. I think that as a 17 year old, I am old enough to decide if I should or should not read it. And even my younger friend read it. I think its a great book because it opens us to the real world, the one that everyone else has to live in.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Bahumbug said...

Why would you ban a book like this? It helps us understand a real life outside of America. Especially at this current moment when the whole middle easy is being terrorized. Everyone needs to know about life outside their own so we can make this world a better place. This was the best book I ever read!

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simply covering your child's eyes and "protecting" them frm the world is more a hindrance than a help. Parents who would forbid their high school age children from reading a book are doing them a disservice. Parents who would ban other people's children from reading a book are taking it to another level entireley. Though they may be believe it is their duty, they have no right to restrict other people's access to the book.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 17 years old and I read The kite runner last year. The book changed my point of view of my a lot of issues, including my own life. It is absurd that someone tries to prohibit young people of reading a portrait of reality. Because, that is the book. A fragment of the everyday life of certain people. About missusing it, come one, you can even "mis-use" cinderella. Everything depends on the way you use it. oh by the way, it is stupid banning books (and in highschool? )...if the students want to read them, they will

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in the class that had to deal with the Shakes. Apparently, the daughter didn't really care one way or another. Fine. But I don't appreciate it when some idiot soccer mom who thinks she's God tries to take away my freedoms. Besides, didn't she realize that the more fuss she made over it, the more people would want to read it? Half the class read the book before the problem was solved, and when we got to the "bad part", all we could think was, "...That's it?"

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what about freedom to choose? You can choose to read graphic novels or not but when the teacher is pushing the story (and it IS a novel) down your throat by reading it everyday to the class it goes too far. There should be a choice of books to read and if a kid my age wants to read it then okay but I should have a choice as to whether I want to read something that has such explicit rape and suicide "scenes". Also, if my parents were to decide that they didn't want me to read the book, then isn't that their right? I have never read a news article that was so explicit about a suicide. I understand the real world and don't need a novel about it shoved in my face.
-student, age 16

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a great difference between a freshman and a senior in maturity and ability to process all the horrors of the world. Yes, our newspapers are filled with terrible events, but is this what we mull over and focus on in school? I think the mom is right that this book is best left for older more mature students. There are books that I never would have wanted my freshman to read, that I am fine with him reading now as a senior. Parents need to think through what is going into the minds of their children whether it is through books, tv, movies, or music. This book is just one of many that I think are placed on required reading lists at the incorrect grade level. I would encourage parents to check out what the local school is asking their children to read and read along with them so that they can discuss this material intelligently with them, or even preview the books to decide if it is time to protest to the school. Again-there is a huge difference in maturity of a fresthman and a senior.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was fifteen when I read the book, and I found myself very capable of understanding the themes that it showed in a mature way. I believe that as long as the book as a whole is read, it teaches a life lesson to anyone who reads it and takes it seriously. The world today is filled with problems just like the ones in the book, and I don't believe it's right to tell teachers their students aren't mature enough to handle it.
Most children by the age of eleven or twelve can understand what rape, war, and deceit are. I find it hard to understand why we censor what children hear because if we do that, they will be completely unaware of the world. I do understand not speaking of these problems with a six year old, or a child who hasn't gotten to the point where they can understand these types of themes, but I know well that teens can understand and even speak from first or secondhand experience about these types of topics.
Even if it were to be banned from reading lists, wouldn't other stories have to be taken down too?
How about The Outcasts of Poker Flats? It tells of the main character killing himself while his comrades freeze to death.
Nearly every article or book you'll find will have controversial topics.
I do agree that only using certain parts of the book is a misuse. It ruins the point of the book and takes away from the lessons it shows. However, this was the teacher's fault. The teacher in question should be either fired or put on a planned schedule to keep him/her from misusing a book in that way.
Should you really blame the book for something that the teacher had control over?

4:28 PM  
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