P. S., these books are sick! Queens parents riled over raunchy sixth-grade lit
Sixth-graders at a Queens school were getting quite an education - in homosexuality, French kissing and cursing - thanks to three books widely available in classroom libraries. But after numerous complaints from parents at Public School 150 in Sunnyside, the books - a profanity-laced poetry book, short stories about homosexuality and a novel called "First French Kiss" - were pulled from the shelves last week. Several parents learned of the racy books after overhearing their kids snickering about the sexual themes.
One of the poems in the book, "You Hear Me?", compares eating an orange to having sex, while several passages repeatedly use vulgar slang for genitalia. And the book "Am I Blue?" is an anthology of stories about gay teenagers that parents found too adult-themed for 11- and 12-year-olds. Parent and leadership team member Michael Novak said the books, which are labeled "young adult" by the New York Public Library, are "material that is totally inappropriate for sixth-graders."
"You Hear Me?" was suggested for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders by the Columbia University Teachers College's Reading and Writing Project because it is the only anthology with poems written by minority teenagers, said Lucy Calkins, its founding director. "It's a tricky balance to walk so we are putting books in their hands that they'll want to read," said Calkins, who had not seen the language in the book.
This article appeared in the December 7, 2006 edition of the New York Daily News.