School District Committee Votes to Remove Novel from Cd'A High School Reading List 

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The ad-hoc literature committee of the Coeur d'Alene School District has recommended removing Jhumpa Lahiri's novel, The Namesake, from a list of approved books to be read by high school students, the Coeur d'Alene Press reports.

According to the Press, the same committee voted last year to remove John Steinbeck's novella, Of Mice and Men from a list of books teachers may assign to ninth-graders. Its recommendation garnered national media attention.

Coeur d'Alene School Board Chair Christa Hazel responded to the committee's vote, saying it was valuable feedback.

"I think input from the committee gives the board an idea as to what the community threshold is for appropriate literature," she told the Press.

The committee's recommendation has initiated a 30-day review period during which the school board will solicit public input on whether it should remove the book from a reading list. During the review period, students, educators, parents and members of the public will be able to weigh in on whether the book, which contains references to recreational drug use, is appropriate for high school-age students.

The public will also have free access to five copies of the book, which can be checked out for one week at a time at the school district office in Coeur d'Alene—though, according to Laura Rumpler, a school district representative, only one person has checked out a copy of The Namesake through the program. 

Last year, a similar committee recommended removing Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from an optional high school reading list in Meridian. During public testimony, students and educators advocated in favor of retaining the text. Opponents of True Diary described it variously as profane and pornographic, as it contains references to masturbation. 

While opponents of the text were briefly successful in removing it from the reading list, it was reinstated, with caveats, during a school board meeting in September 2014.


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