November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Atwood’s ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Retained in Guilford County (NC) High Schools

Margaret Atwood’s award-winning dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale (McClelland and Stewart, 1985) will remain accessible to 12th graders in Guilford, NC, high school libraries, following a local school board vote this week to retain the book on its suggested reading list, local news site reports.

According to the report, the school board voted 5-2 in favor of keeping the book both in school libraries and on its recommended reading list for advanced placement students, in response to a challenge brought last fall by a parent whose child will attend Page High School next year. Notably, the parent was only seeking the book’s removal from the list, not school libraries.

In Atwood’s work of speculative fiction, a totalitarian Christian theocracy has overthrown the United States government. It has won the Governor General’s Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award, and it was nominated for the Nebula Award, the Booker Prize, and the Prometheus Award.

Elsewhere in North Carolina this week, a local school board voted in the opposite direction. According to the local Times-News, the school board in Randolph County, NC, voted to remove Ralph Ellison’s classic novel Invisible Man (Random House, 1952), over the objections of school and district librarians.

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson ( is a former News Editor ofSLJ.