I have recently had a parent complain to me that the book is unsuitable, as it has a theme of prostitution. If this is the case, it has gone over the heads of both myself and my colleagues. Does anyone know to what she is referring? Or is she mistaken?
In a way, it does, but most kids won't realize it. It is a very adult interpretation of what is happening. Most kids will consider it a case of true love and reciprocation.
On the outset, I think that there are always going to be different analysis and discussions about literature. Different people will see different elements within it. I think that this is always going to be there. This means that there might be prostitution in the book. Yet, in a larger sense, I would probably argue that even if the work does contain the idea of prostitution, it might be something that can be discussed in a very progressive and mature manner. Naturally, as with all textual selections, your administration would have to be a part of this discussion. However, I feel that if a book is depicting prostitution as part of its natural plot development, this, by itself, does not discredit it to me. Rather, I think that such a depiction can be the starting point for a good discussion and analysis of prostitution and the conditions that cause people to enter the field. The reality is that if we seek a world where prostitution is ended, it has to be understood. Demonizing it and seeking to silence such a discussion does not bring forth the overall goal of ending it. I think that this might be where I stand on it, but I think that being able to bring administration into this discussion might help you in this particular case.
Another approach would be for you to invite the parents to identify the section in question and join you in a conference about the nature of the work and how both of you saw the same work in different contexts. I might suggest that an administrator be present in such a discourse, but it might be both good to show comfort with difference of opinion as well as to engage in a “book talk” about the work that you selected and taught.
I just find it hard to believe that a book an the literature scheme for 7,8 and 9 year olds would contain such a theme. The parent in question had never read the book, she was reporting what she had been told by her elder son. I did offer to loan her a copy of the text to read for herself to try and reassure her that there was nothing obvious that would raise discussions that may be deemed inappropriate for the children's age, but she turned down the offer. I picked the book from a selection of set curriculum texts, and knew of the film which I thought would support the text nicely as a treat during the end of term cinema day that I'm having with the class. I find it upsetting that parents feel I am delivering unsuitable content within the lessons, and am now worried that I've made a poor choice of book.