PROSSER, Wash. — A teacher here has called for two books he considers inappropriate to be removed from school libraries.
Richard Korb, a social studies teacher at Prosser High School, has formally challenged the books for depictions of child abuse and profanity and what he says is the promotion of homosexuality.
It’s the first time in at least eight years that books have been formally challenged in the Prosser School District, said Mary Snitily, assistant superintendent.
Korb was unavailable to discuss the challenges but a flier signed by him and forwarded to the Yakima Herald-Republic said he wants the books banned. It does not mention simply restricting them to certain ages.
Korb is scheduled to speak at meetings today and Thursday of the district’s instructional materials committee convened to hear the challenges, Snitily said.
The books are “A Child Called ‘It’: One Child’s Courage to Survive” and “The Popularity Papers.” Neither are used in classroom instruction but are available in school libraries for certain grade levels, Snitily said.
“A Child Called ‘It’ ” is the 1995 memoir of California writer Dave Plezer and published by Health Communications of Florida. It chronicles in harrowing detail abuse at the hands of his mentally unstable mother, with depictions of her punching him, burning him and making him eat excrement from a dirty diaper.
In his flier, Korb criticized it for “graphic child abuse, multiple attempts to murder a child, frightening content and profanity.”
It is available to grades 7-8 at the Housel Middle School library, Snitily said.
“The Popularity Papers” is the name of a series of illustrated stories of two fifth-grade girls dealing with social challenges. The author is Amy Ignatow and the book was first published in 2010 by Amulet Books of New York. The series has won several awards and has drawn comparisons to “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” an illustrated story made into a movie by the same name.
Portions of it describe a character being teased for having two fathers, which Korb’s flier calls a “promotion of the homosexual agenda.”
The district has only two copies of “The Popularity Papers,” available to fifth-graders only at Whitstran and Heights elementaries.
After hearing from Korb, as well as the district’s librarian this week, the committee will make recommendations for changes, if any, to the superintendent, who will decide, Snitily said. Only if Korb is unsatisfied with the results would the issue go before the full elected school board.
• Ross Courtney can be reached at 509-930-8798 or firstname.lastname@example.org.