Thursday, August 09, 2007

Oak Lawn Mom Demands Decency From District 126

Parents should be able to trust educators to choose reading material for children that does not contain gratuitous profanity and graphic sexuality...

From "Oak Lawn mom demands ban on racy book" by Angela Caputo, posted 8/3/07 at

Note the use of the word 'ban' in the headline of this article in the Daily Southtown. Using the word 'ban' is both misleading and inaccurate. This word was chosen specifically because it has a negative connotation. No one wants to be known as a 'book banner.' They've managed to imply that this courageous mother as a fanatic in the first few words. But is she?

Karen Lukes is simply asking that
children not be given books containing gratuitous profanity and overt sexual content.

Apparently the media and educators believe that although books have to be evaluated for scores of criteria including vocabulary and artistic merit -- graphic profanity and sexuality should NEVER be a reason to reject a book for children...

It's extremely difficult to sympathize with such reasoning.

Karen Lukes didn't think much about the book that her son randomly picked from a list of suggested summer reading compiled by teachers at Alsip's Prairie Junior High.

Frankly, she said, she was thrilled to see the 14-year-old crack a book during the break from school.

But as the Oak Lawn mother began to read alongside her soon-to-be eighth-grader, she was stunned to discover that "Fat Kid Rules the World" by K.L. Going was laced with profanity and other mature content.

Now she wants Alsip, Hazelgreen and Oak Lawn School District 126 administrators to shelve the book for good.

"I want it pulled," Lukes said. "It's vulgar, and it's a total contradiction. The kids can't go around and talk like this ... What kind of message does it send?"

District 126 Supt. Robert Berger stands by the award-winning selection as one of many books offered to students. All seventh- and eighth-graders at Prairie Junior High are required to read at least one book, preferably from the recommended summer reading list, before school begins.

"These are standard pieces of literature used (in schools) across the country," Berger said. "Appropriateness is for students and parents to judge."

Berger said two other parents have complained about the book.

"Fat Kid Rules the World" chronicles the friendship between an angst-ridden teen named Troy and Curt, a homeless punk-rocker. The pair first cross paths as Troy contemplates throwing himself from a subway platform in a suicide attempt.

The coming-of-age novel, which broaches mature subjects -- from drug and alcohol use to adolescent sexual fantasies to ditching school -- has been compared to J. D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye."

When it was published in 2003, "Fat Kid Rules the World" ranked on the "Best Books" list compiled by the School Library Journal. Going also received The Michael L. Printz award, which is sponsored by a publication of the American Library Association.

Being given an award by the ALA is no guarantee of decency. The official stance of the ALA is that to withhold even sexually graphic material from children amounts to 'age discrimination. '

"Parents who would tell their children not to read Playboy 'don't really care about their kids growing up and learning to think and explore." --Judith Fingerett Krug, ALA Director for Intellectual Freedom.

The ALA apparently finds it perfectly acceptable to discriminate against common sense...

Read the rest of this article.

Follow the saga at