Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Regulations Governing Local School Boards and School Divisions [8 VAC 20 ‑ 720]
Action Amendments Regarding Use of Controversial or Sensitive Instructional Materials
Comment Period Ended on 1/15/2014
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1/4/14  12:58 pm
Commenter: Carolyn Vibbert, Librarian, Prince William County

"Sensitive" is subjective.

As an elementary librarian I firmly belive that parents should be involved in their student's reading life. However, requiring teachers and librarians to mark sensitive items on reading lists and syllibi is too vague. When students check out books from the library, they should be allowed free choice. It is not my right to prevent a student from reading something he or she chooses or to restrict access to many students on the behalf of other students. One parent may object to the word "beer" appearing in a book (Faith Ringold's critically acclaimed "Tar Beach"), another may object to the format of a book (Graphic Novels), another may object to something else. The world of children's literature has expanded exponentially in the last fifty years and are books naturally more diverse.

If parents would like more participation in their student's reading life they should have those conversations at home, read what their students are bringing home, and discuss book lists with teachers. If objections are made to required reading assignments, those should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Please don't force me to be a censor in my library where students should have the right to read what they choose.

Please allow me to write my summer reading list the way I do every year: a list of quality well-reviewed literature that provides students with suggestions for reading. Teachers should not have to be censors for everything individuals may find objectionable. While "Sensitive" may ben intented to target a specific kind of book at a specific level, I fear it could mean that soon my elementary students won't be allowed to choose the books they like from our library shelves.

CommentID: 29826