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How to Deal with Parental Objection/Alternate titles I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions as to another text that would deal with the same thematic issues, appropriate for a sophomore honors class as studying Night and Maus I & II. I'm considering Hiroshima, Of Mice and Men, and The Joy Luck Club, but I'd love other suggestions. Also, if anyone has experience with teaching students reading alternate titles, I'd greatly appreciate the input. I'm closing off the year in a sophomore honors class by studying Night and Maus I & II. Today (the day before we pick up the books), a student told me that her parents did not want her reading either of the books. I'm not in a position to fight this, although I have concerns about why someone would object to these particular texts. We've also read A Separate Peace, Frankenstein, Candide, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Things Fall Apart, all of which contain violence, sexuality, etc. (all the usual complaints), and there was no issue with any of them. Anyway,  Also, if anyone has experience with teaching students reading alternate titles, I'd greatly appreciate your input. The student says her parents don't mind her being in class while we discuss-they just don't want her actually reading the books. Thanks!

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mizzwillie eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This answer is way after your question was asked, but I had the choice for 8th graders to read Maus as part of their outside reading for WWII. Even then I had parents ask why I had my students reading a comic book for credit. My standard answer was that I asked the parent to read the book and then we would talk whether or not it was a worthy choice. Every single time, the parent would call back with the whole family reading the book. Maybe if you ask the parent to read Maus, you might get the same response. I love the choices you have made.

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Is there any way in which students in this situation can study a similar book and participate in discussion in class? For example, there are many books out there on the holocaust which could be used as alternatives to any texts that might be considered offensive. Depending on your aims of teaching the book it would still allow them to contribute to discussion and the big issues that such texts confront.

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amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Parents object for many different reasons, and truthfully, I think we as a nation have become way too lax in what is acceptable in our society.  Too many times I've heard that profanity is the "new black".  Poppycock.  Profanity for the sake of profanity is absurd.  However, profanity in a book like Killer Angels is perfectly understandable and tolerable for the circumstances.

As teachers, we need to be sure we are choosing books that are meaningful and teaching about real life--I can't believe that Night would be contested, and I still am dumbfounded that Huck Finn is contested.  These books are an important window into the human condition, and when presented this way, surely parents will understand.  If they do not, an alternative assignment should be part of the backup plan.

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Thank you for all your suggestions. I think I may have been unclear in my explanation however, in that these parents are not objecting to my teaching the novels to the class as a whole, nor asking for them to be removed from the curriculum. They're not even requesting that their daughter be removed from discussion. They simply want an alternate assignment for her. The reason I've chosen not to argue that, is probably the same reason they've chosen not to argue the right of every other student in the class to read the books. They're making the choice for their own child. Now, I personally think everyone should read these texts (Maus especially, as an introduction to what comics can offer as literature), but I'm not going to fight against a family that's made a decision which only affects their own daughter. If they were questioning the placement in the curriculum, or asking for the entire class to read something else, then it would be a different issue. You'd better believe I'd be going to the mat then. Again, thanks for all your input and suggestions.

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Mervin Ridley eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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If these parents are comfortable with the other selections you mentioned, then Night should be the least of their concerns. If you have a supportive administration, ask them to back you on...

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Michael Stultz, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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dmclaren2 | Student

I had a parent object to How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents because of the sexual content. As in the case of the original post, the parents were objecting only to their son reading the book, not my right to teach it. My school's policy is that they will generally back the teacher. However, if there is an alternate text that will offer similar themes the studnet can use that book instead as long as it does not cause undue hardship for the teacher. In my case, I had the student read When I Was Puerto Rican as an alternative text. Since we did not have a copy of the book, the family was responsible for securing a copy for their son. Because I taught my units with choices built in, he was able to use most of the same assignments with the alternate text. The final assessment was project-based, so, again, he was able to complete the unit without a lot of extra work on my part.

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swimma-logan | Student
How to Deal with Parental Objection/Alternate titles

I'm closing off the year in a sophomore honors class by studying Night and Maus I & II. Today (the day before we pick up the books), a student told me that her parents did not want her reading either of the books. I'm not in a position to fight this, although I have concerns about why someone would object to these particular texts. We've also read A Separate Peace, Frankenstein, Candide, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Things Fall Apart, all of which contain violence, sexuality, etc. (all the usual complaints), and there was no issue with any of them. Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions as to another text that would deal with the same thematic issues, appropriate for a sophomore honors class. I'm considering Hiroshima, Of Mice and Men, and The Joy Luck Club, but I'd love other suggestions.

Also, if anyone has experience with teaching students reading alternate titles, I'd greatly appreciate your input. The student says her parents don't mind her being in class while we discuss-they just don't want her actually reading the books. Thanks!

The Joy Luck Clubwas an excellent book, and some parents are just like that. As a student, with "those parents" I can tell you some people just object to cause trouble. They'll find something silly, and just go on a tyrade. I've yet to have a school employee successfully deal with my parents. Sometimes parents are just difficult for the sake of it.

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epollock | Student

It is not too hard to understand a parent's objections if you look at people all having different value systems. The parent might not have objected to others because they might not even know what was in those books, but decided to look at the last one, thus objecting to it. I usually ran the classes as an after school workshop and seminar so that I could actually manage the two situations. Running it as a seminar can take a great deal of the work off your shoulders and place it on the student's.

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z14 | Student

Wow--the objection to Night floors me, especially since the parents didn't mind the other works.  Personally, I would stay away from Of Mice and Men with that student because that is the one book that I have had parents object to.

Of the three that you suggested, Hiroshima seems like it would be the most effective.  If you prefer a memoir, you could suggest Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza, which follows her experience during the Rwandan genocide.  It doesn't quite have the depth of Elie Wiesel's writing, but it possesses the same themes and personal journey motif.

In regards to teaching alternate works, I've used two-sided journals before with students, and they work quite well.  I've also borrowed quizzes and tests from other teachers who have taught the alternate books. Since you teach a tenth-grade honors class and are most likely preparing students for AP English, you could consider using an AP English Lit. writing prompt from AP Central as a basis for essay questions.  Their FRQ essays can easily be tailored for any work of fiction.

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