Spokane school administrators banned a book from middle schools Tuesday after deciding the story about a prostitute’s daughter is “too mature.”
English teachers have used the book, called “Rainbow Jordan,” for several years in a unit on conflict. Administrators sent a letter announcing the ban to the man who complained about the book.
“Thank God for that,” said James Rinehart, a mall security guard who lodged a complaint with school officials after his 14-year-old grandson brought the book home.
“I couldn’t believe this book was in our libraries. In schools!” he said. “When I was a child, we didn’t have this. The four-letter words and everything were right in there.”
The book is about the struggles of a 14-year-old girl coming to terms with her mother’s lifestyle.
Educators said “Rainbow Jordan” wasn’t reviewed very well when purchased along with many other books several years ago.
“It was essentially too mature for students at the middle school level,” Associate Superintendent Cynthia Lambarth said.
The 127-page book contains profanity. Other portions are sexually explicit, such as a passage comparing the color of a girl’s see-through blouse to her nipples.
Lambarth called it “very explicit language on very mature topics.”
District officials are rounding up the books, which they say were available to children but not required reading.
“It’s totally inappropriate,” agreed Cathy Sebring, language arts coordinator at Garry Middle School. “I didn’t like the characterizations, the theme of it, the language.”
But Sebring added, some kids could relate to the book quite well. “It does have some validity and reality.”
Marie Duryee, language arts coordinator at Salk Middle School, said the book was used sparingly in seventh and eighth grades.
“I didn’t encourage anyone to read it in my class,” she said. “From a classroom teacher’s point of view, there were other books I thought were better choices.”
Reinhart’s grandson, Justin Roberge, said he was assigned to read a story by Alice Childress for an English class at Chase Middle School. “Rainbow Jordan” was the only Childress book available at the school library, he said.
Roberge said he thought it a strange selection for a school library.
“It says a whole bunch of rude stuff,” he said. “It mentioned a girl’s private parts, cussing, swearing, drugs and how the mom was a prostitute and a hooker.”
He figures pulling the books from school shelves will save some kids from embarrassment.
“Some students probably do like it, but for those who don’t, I’m glad for them.”
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