U. Saucon Resident Objects to Book Complaint

A Southern Lehigh parent's request that a Toni Morrison book be taken off the Southern Lehigh High School summer reading list was criticized in a letter to the editor published by the Morning Call.

Editor's Note: This story has been revised and accompanying graphic changed to clarify that the request made was to remove the book "The Bluest Eye" from the high school's summer reading list, and not to ban the book entirely. We apologize for any confusion the earlier published version may have caused.

In a letter to the editor published by the Morning Call, an Upper Saucon Township resident tells a mother who recently requested that the Toni Morrison book "The Bluest Eye" be removed from Southern Lehigh High School's summer reading list that if she doesn't want her children to read the book, she shouldn't let them.

Letter-writer Karen Filipowicz addressed Karen Markham's recent remarks in her letter, in which Filipowicz says parents shouldn't seek to impose their views on literature on the children of others.

Last month, Markham, of Coopersburg, told the Southern Lehigh School Board that she objected to the inclusion of "The Bluest Eye" on the summer reading list because of "graphic descriptions of incest, rape and pedophilia" in it.
Center Valley Citizen September 05, 2013 at 08:41 AM
Hear hear! I recently read The Bluest Eye for a college literature course. The book is less about the molestation and abuse, and more about the underlying lessons learned from the story. A great read, and I'd let my high schooler read it any day. Bottom line is, if you don't want your kid to read it, don't have your kid read it. But don't take that option away from me, and my child.
Notbornyesterday September 05, 2013 at 10:32 AM
The person that spoke at the School board meeting was not advocating banning the book or stopping anyone from reading it. She was suggesting that it not be on the 10th grade summer reading list. She mentioned that it was her daughter that brought up the graphic nature of the book. They talked about it. How many of us ever read the books on the summer reading list? This was a parent that was not horrified and screaming for book banning. She was simply stating that she thought this particular book was not the best choice for reading in a vacuum.
Josh Popichak (Editor) September 05, 2013 at 11:18 AM
@Notbornyesterday: This is a direct quote by Karen Markham from the Aug. 26 Solehi school board meeting: "I am for freedom of speech, but I am asking the school to remove the book." I was at that meeting, and although that quote was not in the story I originally wrote about this subject, it is in my notes. That sure sounds like a request to ban the book to me.
John Schubert September 05, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Josh, Karen specifically said she did NOT ask for the book to be removed from the library -- just removed from the summer reading list. It was her opinion that a book that had such troubling topics should not be required reading in a summer reading list situation, where there is no support system or classroom discussion to help a student who feels traumatized by reading a book with disturbing content.
Notbornyesterday September 05, 2013 at 04:34 PM
John's right, she was asking for the book to be removed from the summer reading list. She started off her remarks specifically saying that she was NOT in favor of book banning, but more careful choosing of the summer reading books. Why not ask Karen for some clarity?
Josh Popichak (Editor) September 05, 2013 at 06:38 PM
I will try to reach out to Karen to ask her for a clarification. I don't have contact info. for her, so if anyone does, please feel free to give her my email address: josh.popichak@patch.com. I will certainly update this story if it is in fact misleading or incorrect. Thanks.
Peter September 06, 2013 at 07:46 AM
why let responsible reporting get in the way of having a big, attention grabbing headline using the words "BOOK BAN"!!!!!! ROAR! SOMEONE'S TRYING TO BAN A BOOK!!!!!! take it easy, Josh. It's not like this is the ny times.
Carol Cheshire September 06, 2013 at 08:32 AM
Yes, Josh, if someone were to cry, "Ban the book" which I would interpret as making it illegal to read or to take it off the market, that is one thing. Asking for it to be removed from the 10th grade summer reading list because it is inappropriate for that situation is quite another!
brian September 06, 2013 at 11:04 AM
I too was at the meeting, and yes, John and NBY are correct. Karen specifically said she did not want the book removed from the library. I thought that was pretty clear.
Josh Popichak (Editor) September 06, 2013 at 12:04 PM
I have updated/corrected this story and added an explanatory note about why that's been done. I apologize for any mischaracterization of what took place, which was not intentional, and thank you for the feedback.
Carol Swanson Cheshire September 06, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Josh, I appreciate your openness and believe in your honorable character. Thank you for your response!
Scott Korin September 06, 2013 at 01:38 PM
I don't understand the point from removing a book from a reading list. It's a list. Choose books from it. Nobody is making student read every book on the list.
Donna Alcott September 06, 2013 at 06:33 PM
As it is not on a required reading list, but a suggested reading list, maybe it just needs a warning label for it so to speak. Video games have a mature content label, why not a reading list so the student/parent has some knowledge beforehand what they may be reading. A parent does have a right to object to it being on a required reading list such as those for the Honors Courses. I do not believe in book banning in any manner but I do not feel a person should be forced to read a book describing sex/rape/detailed violence.
Leslie September 07, 2013 at 12:34 PM
I agree with you Donna, to a point, however why can't the PARENT look up the book the child indicates they want to read? Or look up the books they aren't familiar with themselves? It could be a Catch 22 however because the student may want to read a particular book even more if the parent objects or if there were "warnings" placed on reading lists. The bookstores would sell out of those books in minutes LOL
Donna Alcott September 07, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Leslie, I agree the parent or student could look up the book, but I would hope that as they are on a suggested reading list that the person making the list would have read them, thus it would just take them seconds to add a comment o after each book like "mature content" and possibly add a definition of mature content at the bottom. I agree it may make a student want to read a book even more but it does allow a person to know what they are reading before they get to possible offending content. Believe it or not, there are some people who prefer not to read that content and would appreciate knowing it was there.
Leslie September 07, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Fair cop, I understand your point. I guess the main responsibility, however, lies upon the student's parent/guardian.
Donna Alcott September 07, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Yes, it is a student's parent /guardian's responsibility to know what is in the content of the reading material their students are exposed to, 100%. Sadly, many parents either do not care or do not take the time to be involved to this level, but I am also sure teacher's do not want every book they read questioned. This is why I suggested the mature content label. It is up front and will save the teacher's/school board time everytime a parents questions the content of the suggested reading material. I truthfully do not see the need for questionable literature to even be present on the list when there is so much excellent literature available for student's to read. AS it was not required reading though I would not have fought for it to be removed. I have to kinda laugh though, we trust our children to get an quality education in our public institutions. When a parent objects to the moral content exposed to them at these public schools they are told it is their responsibility to be aware of it. No wonder homeschooling is still continuing to be a popular choice. But unfortunately that option is also looked down upon by many.


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