Park Cities Parents Want Their Kids to Read the Classics, Not These Newfangled Porn Novels

nineteenminutes.jpg
WTPS
Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes is one of the novels being challenged by HPHS parents.
Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes and Steven Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower have two things in common. They both delve into complicated topics of teenage bullying and social struggles, and Highland Park High School parents don't want their kids reading either of them. Both contain passages of sexually explicit situations, which some parents say are pornographic.

In a flurry of e-mails exchanged between furious parents and HPHS English teachers last month, parents expressed their frustration that kids were reading sexually-charged contemporary fiction and not enough from the classical literary canon.

"It's just wrong for me to sit back and not try to improve the quality of literature for our kids," HPHS parent Tavia Hunt (former Miss Kansas 1993, and married to one of Dallas' wealthiest and most influential families -- yes, those Hunts) told Park Cities People.

Hunt was one of several parents who complained about the literary selection, saying that parents were not informed about controversial material on the Recommended Outside Reading list. "We don't want to stomp on anybody else's right to read the material," she said. "We just want true and informed consent."

But HPHS administration are defending the selection, saying contemporary literature is an important and necessary component to the curriculum. "We don't want to deny students access to certain piece of literature just because it hasn't gone through decades of review," Highland Park High School principal Walter Kelly tells Unfair Park. He says contemporary literature allows kids to relate to fiction, and makes all fiction -- including the classics -- more accessible and enjoyable to students.

Kelly says the selection process for the expansive Recommended Outside Reading list includes a committee, which includes parents, to review the books. Until recently, the committee had a hard time recruiting parents to join. The Recommended list gives students a choice from more than 250 works and is just a part of English department curriculum, which focuses on required reading and supplementary materials.

"Parents always have the option to refuse having their kids read a book, and it's our responsibility to provide an alternative work," says Kelly. "If a parent disagrees, they can request that the book is removed from the list. And for those books that are questionable, the department does send home a note."

Kelly also stressed selecting works with appropriate maturity level for students. In a letter sent out to parents in May, Kelly described the fiction selection process and stressed that HPHS works to "meet the developmentally appropriate balance of challenging our students' thinking while upholding community values and standards."

The English department at HPHS sends home notes for "questionable" novels, but notes are not sent home for classic works, which include Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. But since parents have expressed concern about sexually-charged literature at HPHS, these novels haven't caused any controversy.

My Voice Nation Help
38 comments
bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

In H.P. that probably qualifies as a fuss.

EdD.
EdD.

I know it's a small point, but the former Tavia Shackles was named Miss Kansas USA in 1993, not Miss Kansas. (As such, she competed to be Miss USA, not Miss America.)

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

The purpose of reading the classics is to examine problems and reactions of human beings from a broad range of eras and cultures.  Having them read about sex and jealousy in 2014 settings does not do anything except confirm they are special and no one has had the problems of current teens.  Reading about sex and jealousy in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, India tells you that you are not special, everything you think you created has been done 1000's of times and the best result you can hope for is not repeat the same dumb mistakes by countless humans before you.

parisrec
parisrec

If people want to clean up the neighborhood, let's start with the sickening phenomena called UFC. Next up is Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie, and the worst of all: Shark Tank. As far as High School goes, I found Naked Lunch on my own.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Here is a link to the HPISD website.  Click on the link to see the required reading.  There are some serious books on this list.  As far as shock value goes, nothing quite describes despair as does the ending of The Grapes of Wrath, and I am not talking about the Henry Fonda version.


http://hs.hpisd.org/

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

That bimbo's husband needs to get off his ass and take care of his woman.  She clearly needs to get laid.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Romeo and Juliet is a novel???

I've read it a few times and it always seems to read like a play.

OxbowIncident
OxbowIncident

In its continuing support of DISD methods, its good to see the Observer being consistent with the stance that parents should have little say with their children's schooling.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

It's okay.


Those poor delicate little children will just read mom's copy of 50 Shades of Gray.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Parent's have always taken issue with their children's tastes, whether it be in music, books, TV, movies, whatever.  Literature evolves, just like the rest of society, and one either keeps up or gets left behind yelling "Get off My LAWN!" at everyone who saunters by.

If it involves reading something out of an actual book, formed from complete sentences and having some semblance of literary structure, I'm not all that concerned what teenagers are reading.  Whatever it is, it can't be much worse than what they're getting in 140 characters or less, preceded by a hashtag, often accompanied by a picture.

fred.garvin.mp.713
fred.garvin.mp.713

Yeah! They need to read clean, sex-free classics like the Bible and Canterbury Tales.

manpanties
manpanties

I guess some folks just need to invent problems.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Recommend they read selected stories by Charles Bukowski - they're classics

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

If H.P. parents want their children to read the classics, the solution is to forbid them to read the classics. If they don't want them to read Jodi Picoult, it's already too late. By kicking up this fuss, they've alerted kids that there's something here mom and dad don't want you to read. What kid could resist that enticement?

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

I must admit that the last two sentences brought back some some fond memories of some of the books I read in High School (the two mentioned as well as One Hundred Years of Solitude and several others).  I had to chuckle at the last sentence as my parents really had no idea what we were reading.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Most contemporary fiction for kids and young adults is crap, slathered with vomitus, served on a putrescent bed of greens.  In addition to often being laden with inappropriate messages, most of it is terrifically boring and poorly written.


I have had to slog through some of it and resent every minute wasted. 

JFPO
JFPO

If you bothered to read the article carefully, you would have noticed that the parents completely ignored communications from the school about how they could have sheltered little Johnny from this dangerous smut. But why bother to understand what you're reading because LIBS!!!!

LocalLibraryPatron
LocalLibraryPatron

50 Shades is kinda' mild. I bet some of those mommies have some reading material that's far more interesting!

JFPO
JFPO

Or Henry Miller, whose books were actually banned in this country at one time. The good ol'l days!

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@roo_ster What books would you be recommending to highschool kids, rooster?

ksks
ksks

@roo_ster  John Grier Hibben likely held the same sentiment after reading This Side of Paradise. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@roo_ster  In addition to often being laden with inappropriate messages, most of it is terrifically boring and poorly written.


That's the real crime here.  Inappropriate messages can be abided if they are well crafted.  This is just plain detritus.  At best it's pornographic (look the word up before you argue about it) and at worst it's such shitty writing that it actively turns kids off of reading.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@bmarvel @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul 

There isn't really a fuss.  It's just one wealthy woman with too much time on her hands, trying to feel important by complaining about how awful the world is.  Others just chimed in because they wanted to be liked by the prom queen - a'la "Mean Girls".


OxbowIncident
OxbowIncident

@JFPO Obviously sarcasm escapes you. Parents of a school are having dialog about LITERATURE with a school district and the Observer sees this as a problem. When is the last time you saw an article here about DISD parents getting involved with their kids curriculum at this level?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @fred.garvin.mp.713 A few years ago there was a PBS story about a group of teachers in England who refused to teach Romeo and Juliet to their classes because of the violence and because it would encourage teenage promiscuity.

I think the safest thing is just forbid kids to read.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@bmarvel @roo_ster 

There are thousands of titles that make for fine reading since Beowulf. More than any high school student will have time to read. 


If you want lists, there have been numerous lists that supposedly prepare one for the verbal portions of the SAT.  I got my hands on such a list as a middle school student and ended up reading a goodly number on it in between my scifi/fantasy novels and history books.  Had fine results on the SAT.  Plenty of challenging material and heaps of mature themes.

Contemporary young adult fiction and most genre fiction has become repellent and the sales reflect this.  The big publishers are dead men walking because they insist on message fiction and check-the-box PC baloney.  Anything they produce in YA & genre fic that is readable is pure happenstance.  They have even driven boys from the scifi/fantasy genre with their pumping the cause of the day.  The midlist is a desert and only the old standbys are keeping them afloat. 


Books for the younger tykes are just as bad.  I had the best luck getting my kids to read juvenile versions of classics.  The all-time favorite was a version of Ulysses out of the UK.  "No man has blinded me" brought howls of laughter as my son & daughter read it.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@roo_ster @bmarvel  "Had fine results on the SAT" Here in a nutshell is my problem with the way schools seem to approach reading. The SAT and all-testimg-all-time govern all. No wonder kids don't enjoy reading. It's good medicine: Take it and you'll pass and make us all proud -- and earn us those all-important professional creds.

As a kid I worked my way through everything from The Hardy Boys to Albert Payson Terhune's dog stories to Mad magazine, Astounding Science Ficton, H.G.Wells, Catcher in the Rye, On the Road, the Beats, James Joyce, Flaubert, and on and on. Some treasure, some trash. (I'm a great believer in rash reading, by the way. How can you know the treasure without the trash?) It never crossed my mind I was reading so some teacher could check items off her list. But such is education for the new Corporate State i saw the other day that school kids are being force fed a stern diet of nonfiction. No wonder they don't read. Who would want to?

When I was teaching young journalists a couple years ago. I noticed that many of my students were fiercely literal-minded, deaf to figures of speech. Irony passed them by. Their younger brothers and sisters were into Harry Potter, so there may be some hope. I'm a writer; I believe a civilization can be known by what it reads. We seem to be poised to turn out a  grim little bunch of doobies.


  

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@bmarvel @roo_ster I hated reading, not because it was terrible writing but because I was more interested in my baseball/soccer/basketball practice and games.  And as Cogito says, now they have even more shit to take up there time

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@bmarvel @roo_ster "No wonder they don't read."


I wonder if you think video games, cell phones, tablets, satellite television, DVR, YouTube and the many temptations of the Internet might have something to do with kids not reading as much.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @bmarvel @roo_ster I think they may have "something" to do with it, but I'm not sure how much. All the more reason to get them reading in school.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...