Readers of Restricted Books Now Offered Cash, Grub

Locals object to Alaskan school board pulling classics from curriculum
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2020 10:29 AM CDT
Readers of Restricted Books Now Offered Cash, Grub
A 1925 first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."   (AP Photo/Sotheby's)

Locals have responded to an Alaska school district's decision to pull classic books from the curriculum with efforts to ensure teenagers bury their noses in them. Since the Matanuska-Susitna Borough school board in Palmer voted earlier this month to stop teaching five books in elective high school English classes—Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Joseph Heller's Catch-22, and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, objected to for language and sexual material—a digital book club has sprung up, drawing more than 300 members, per the Guardian. There's also a "banned book challenge," with more than 600 members on Facebook. Students who read all five books by Aug. 9 will be eligible for $100 prizes.

Additionally, a food truck is offering free macaroni and cheese to students who write a one-page report on any of the books, while Fireside Books has received a flood of donations as it seeks to share the titles. City Council member Sabrena Combs is also sharing the material, reading daily excerpts of O'Brien's short-story collection. "To say [harsh or scary topics] shouldn't be in schools is absurd, because then you end up with kids that graduate and have no idea what any experience outside of their own could possibly be," she says, per CNN. She questions the timing of the vote, during a board meeting with no public comments. Board member Jeff Taylor, who voted for the removal, says the decision "may need to be revisited" for that reason, though he stresses that the books remain in school libraries. (Read more book ban stories.)

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