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Parents Complain about Book's Content

Two parents expressed concerns over the sexual content in the novel "Water for Elephants" at Monday's West Chester school board meeting.

Two West Chester Area School District parents expressed concern over the sexual content in the novel "Water for Elephants" at Monday's school board meeting.

The novel is required reading for some district sophomores.

One parent read a particularly explict passage aloud during the public comment portion of Monday's meeting much to the chagrin of school board president Vince Murphy who asked the parent to stop.

The parent argued that the book was inappropriate for sophmores, and that there were other books with similar themes and settings that did not contain sexually explicit scenes.

Superintendent Dr. James Scanlon said that he would be more than happy to meet with the parents to discuss their concerns.

Jere Kane November 29, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I read it a while ago and thought it was a very good book. As for the content and whether it is appropriate for high school students, I can't remember. Find it somewhat enlightening that the school board member was asking the parent to stop reading the text.
Sunshine December 03, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I loved the book! While there may be some areas of the book that the parent did not like, I wonder if she has ever been to an event with teenagers. The language used by most teens when they are away from their parents is pretty vulgar so if she believes that her child hasn't heard the language before, she might be mistaken.
Cathy Binder December 04, 2012 at 12:47 AM
What I wonder is if we as parents need understand that in reading literature we are always going to have questionable scenes and mature themes that may be disturbing - from sex to violence. This is a high level course - one that is well above grade level. Won't the students in such a class be reading things that are well - more mature? I NEVER support banning a book. I would much prefer to discuss such things with my children. I have always read what they read and have family discussions. I read this book too, it is one scene in the book, and I see how it ties into the greater theme and I have not sat in a lit class in many, many years. And anyway, the district has a policy that allows a parent to opt out of reading a book they find objectionable.
Christina -. December 26, 2012 at 10:54 PM
This is not a book about sex; and the fact that the young man in the story is inexperienced and in shock at the silly sexual exploits in the book is something that should be paid attention to. He is a college-aged student who is a virgin. This is a book about circus life and attends to a couple small conversations about the human body; it is by no means more offensive than health class and does not advocate that lifestyle.
Constance January 02, 2013 at 05:27 PM
One wonders why, given all the great literature out there and the limited time for instruction on any particular book, this story was chosen. It is not great literature by any means. Perhaps the thought was that the kids would be more likely to read it because of the sexual content or its place on the New York Times' Best Seller list, but again, given that time in school is so limited, it seems that a book with actual literary merit would be a better choice. Making a different choice (or indeed, any choice about what specific titles to include in instruction) does not mean that non-selected books are banned. It simply means that someone has made the decision that one work was better than the rest of the universe of books to accomplish the instructional end for which the book was assigned. Set aside for the moment the fact that the book was not written for teens or the young adult market, and that some parents might object to their 13-15 year olds being exposed to the graphic descriptions of sex, violence and animal cruelty it contains. Instructional time is too short and too precious to squander on bad writing. Ascertain the reason for which this book was assigned and identify good writing that can fill that purpose. Then assign that well written book to the students to read.
nona January 02, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Fahrenheit 451... Read it. Grow up.
AmyL January 29, 2013 at 09:47 PM
No one is asking for the book to be burned. Actually, Fahrenheit 451 might be a better book choice than Water for Elephants. There would be more substance to discuss.

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