May 27, 2015

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Advocacy Group Urges NC School Board to Retain Allende’s ‘House of the Spirits’

The People for the American Way Foundation (PFAW), a progressive advocacy and freedom of speech organization, sent a letter today to North Carolina’s Watauga County Board of Education urging it to retain the use of Isabel Allende’s novel The House of the Spirits (Knopf, 1982) in the school’s English curriculum. The award-winning novel, a work of magical realism, was challenged last week by a parent, who asked the board to consider its removal from the district.

PFAW’s letter, from the foundation’s president Michael Keegan, explains in detail why the board should “reject the challenge,” Melinda Blue, communications manager for PFAW, tells School Library Journal. “We’re keeping an eye on what the school board decides.”

“The House of Spirits is an internationally renowned work that is taught in high school Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs throughout the country,” says Keegan in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by SLJ. “Watauga County students deserve the opportunity to learn from and respond to Allende’s work, both as a work of literature and as a window into a different time and culture.”

Keegan also says, “We trust that as educators you will uphold the right of all students in Watauga County to receive a competitive, rigorous education free from censorship. While individual parents have every right to decline reading material for their own children, they should not be allowed to censor the curricula for all students in the county.

“For over 30 years we have worked with school boards to protect students’ right to learn, and are happy to serve as a resource for you in this and any future challenges to school curricula.”

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

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

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