This is true parent advocacy in action. Erika is part of our Washington Parents United Chapter. We are formalizing chapters across the state and giving you the tools you need to research the books in your library! Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be on a book review team for your school district.
CAUTION, Book reviews/quotes at bottom of post are explicit. The schools with these books are listed with each review.
Email to WCSD:
Hello Mr. Bergeson and WCSD Board,
I appreciate your invitation to email my concerns and thank you for looking into this serious matter further. PLEASE DO NOT DELAY IN REMOVING THESE BOOKS FROM ALL WCSD SCHOOLS. We cannot take lightly the impact we have on students and our responsibility to call out the greatness in them. I am a firm believer that this is done by providing children with good literature, filled with inspiring, morally strong themes and characters. As you know, what we feed our minds influences our behavior.
It was mentioned in the meeting last night that there are already policies in place that can guide us in what books are brought into the district. Would parent review panels be helpful? The information I found on the books in the GRAMA request took a matter of minutes with an internet search. WE MUST DO BETTER. It is time to look closely at what is available in our school libriaries.
Listed below are book review summaries. Thank you again for your immediate attention to this.
Be advised that the following contains appalling/explicit information.
BOOKS CURRENTLY IN WCSD LIBRARIES: "Out of Darkness", "The Hate U Give", "This One Summer", "George"
It is greatly concerning that books with such explicit language and sexual content have been purchased/approved by WCSD and are available to students, especially in the three elementary schools that have "The Hate U Give."
Here is a collection of parent reviews from Common Sense Media:
The Hate U Give (In Coral Cliffs Elem, Desert Canyons Elem., Majestic Fields Elem, Sunrise Ridge Int., Crimson CLiffs Mid and HS, Desert Hills Mid and HS, Dixie Mid and HS, Snow Canyon Mid and HS, SORA Online E-Book for all district Middle/High )
This book has explicit language, many sexual references and violence.
"There is lots of foul language, and it broaches the topic of "going all the way" and sex, and pulling out condoms during a make out session, his hands in her pants" "The main theme is THUG LIFE meaning "The Hate U Give Little Infants F***'s Everybody".... There are 90 F*CK's and a variety of over 200 other words that the author uses for shock value and impact. Lots of chanting of "F*CK THE POLICE" and "MothaF*cker..." ." "s--t" "a--" "b---", "d---" "nigga"
"Overall the themes in this book may create heightened racial polarization and risks preconceived vision of this culture and magnification of racial stereotypes to the next generation."
"Out of Darkness" - Book Review (In Dixie Mid, Snow Canyon Mid, Crimson Cliffs HS, Hurricane HS, Pine View HS, and SORA online E-books for all middle/High schools)
Set in 1936 East Texas in the months leading up to the 1937 New London School Explosion, the book explores a fictional relationship between a Mexican teen allowed to attend the white high school and an African-American teen who lives in the black neighborhood on the other side of town. Language include racial slurs such as the "N" word, "Boy," and "dirty Mexican," as well as occasional curse words, including "s--t," "c--t," and "f--k." The violence is disturbing, personal, and based in racial hatred. Additionally, the book explores the mature and intimate relationship between two teens.
"age 17+ salacious and dark
I am in chapter 64 of 175, far enough along to form an overall impression in five letters: ew, ick.
The review that says this is about race is a half-truth. So far, that’s a minor ingredient in this the author’s recipe. By paragraph-count, this book focuses on gratuitous sexual situations that should be beyond many 9th graders:
multiple, comprehensive-enough instructions on giving “hand jobs” (adult males training teen girls);
female masturbation (protagonist) justified for pain relief and mental escape by a girl living through the trauma of being sexually abused by a stepfather;
male masturbation by both the stepdad (villain) and love interest (hero); and
the most vulgar of "locker room talk” I’ve ever read/heard (and I’ve not grown up in bubble, for sure).
(Later on the author teaches young-adult males how to "go down" and give girls a "gift.")
The sexualization is not romantic, but rather nasty. Some sexual situations unfortunately reinforce some racists stereotypes (I grew up in this general area, so I know from experience). If I was black or Mexican and thin-skinned, I might take offense.
Most chapter headings are the name of a character—that’s a plot structure used by the author for some rather rough transitions (not great writing). The reader soon learns that it is sometimes a tip-off as to who might orgasm or be abused (or both). To say this book is about teaching kids about race is a little like buying a Playboy Magazine for the articles. Maybe a little salaciousness keeps a teen boy's interest, but this is way over the top.
Intertwined motifs are sweat and semen. They recur in many chapters, both directly and indirectly. They are ghosts that haunt the protagonist.
Diction is juvenile (think Beavis and Butt-Head). Amongst the salaciousness, the author likes to do things like this:
Jerk of the wood-en window (masturbation of the villain in their house)
The naked trees (the protagonist and hero eventually have sex in the woods)
The author really is describing windows and trees, but used a deliberate word choice to try to be funny (maybe)…
More formally (legally or clinically), I would say that this book:
(A) appeals to the prurient interest of a minor in sex;
(B) is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors; and
(C) is utterly without redeeming social value for minors or literary value for anyone."
Out of Darkness - Book Review
Caldecott Honor doesn't mean the same thing it used to...
THIS ONE SUMMER (In Paradise Canyons Elem, Snow Canyon Mid, Crimson Cliffs High, Dixie High)
"This graphic novel (discusses) an unwanted teenage pregnancy is an integral part of the story, as do a miscarriage and a suicide attempt. Dialogue in This One Summer contains about a dozen instances each of "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole." "Boobs," "prick," "douche bag," "slut," and "butt" are employed a few times each. Adults are shown drinking wine, and older teens drink and smoke at an outdoor party."
"should not be included in an elementary library. The subject matter is not appropriate 1)references to porn, oral sex 2) language. Very discouraging as an educator and a parent."
"I was appalled at the content in this graphic novel. My 12 year old checked this book out from her school library via the SORA app for a so called "fun" afternoon read. The cover of the book nor the descriptive summary of the story line gave any signs that it might be inappropriate. After all, it was an "award winning" children's book. It was determined pretty quick that the content was ANYTHING BUT appropriate. Multiple use of profanity - and that wasn't the worst part. How about having your daughter read about "blowjobs" and "oral sex" and "porn" along with multiple other sexual innuendos! Common Sense Media says the book is for ages 13+ ?! No 13 year old should be reading this kind of material. As others have stated, this type of content would be rated R in movies. If they're not old enough to see it in the movies, they're not old enough to see/read it in a book.
Shame on the app/library for making it available for innocent eyes to see & read... ESPECIALLY with no warning of the graphic nature of the book! There is plenty of time in a person's life to be exposed to such filth/material.... why push it onto such young kids?? Let them stay innocent while they can!! Totally unacceptable."
GEORGE by Alex Gino (IN DIXIE HIGH)
"While I understand there is an audience for this book-- children who are exploring transitioning -- I do not feel it is a significant literary work. The author is careless in the use of language, throws around gender stereotypes and presents characters who are underdeveloped. It is a junior high stories embedded in an elementary level book. I would definitely not recommend this book for anyone younger than 14 years old. Please note the following direct quotes where "she" refers to George who was born a male but is now a trans girl:
“She immersed her body in the in the warm water and tried not to think about what was between her legs, but there it was, bobbing in front of her.”
“Hey Rick. It looks like someone is finally starting to grow some balls.”
“Nothing makes her more uncomfortable than when boys talked about what was in her underpants.”
“George had been reading websites about transitioning since Scott taught her how to clear the web browser history on Mom’s computer.”
“….what she has between her legs was nobody’s business but hers and her boyfriend.”
“Boys are dirty and try to look up our skirt.”
“She would do cartwheels leaving her pink underwear showing.”
“She lifted her skirt to see her underwear, covered in tiny red hearts, she pulled it down, sat and peed, just like a girl.”