February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Kids’ Right to Read Project Urges NM High School Not to Ban ‘Neverwhere’

The Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) announced that it has urged New Mexico’s Alamogordo Public School district to return Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere to high school English classrooms.

“Getting teens to enjoy reading is a notoriously challenging task for teachers and librarians,” says Acacia O’Connor, KRRP’s coordinator, in the organization’s letter to the district. “Neil Gaiman’s work is famous for both its literary merit and mass appeal to teen readers, especially boys. This book has been taught successfully and without incident to hundreds of Alamogordo students; there’s no grounds to ban it now.”

Teaching of Neverwhere was suspended last week at the school after one parent complained about its content, and a district-wide committee is now set to re-evaluate the book.

The urban fantasy novel has been taught in Alamogordo high school classrooms since it was added to the approved texts list in 2004, KRRP says in its announcement, noting that the specific passage the parent objected to in her complaint “contains some strong language and an implied extramarital affair in a passing description of an overheard conversation.”

KRRP says that an alternate assignment was offered to the student, and that parents “have no right to impose their views on others or to demand that otherwise educationally worthy materials be removed, merely because they consider them objectionable, offensive, or inappropriate. To go further and remove the book potentially violates the constitutional rights of other students and parents.”

Gaiman originally wrote Neverwhere as a BBC TV series, which aired in 1996, and adapted it the following year into a novel. It was recently broadcast as a radio play for the BBC’s Radio 4.

The Kids’ Right to Read Project is a grassroots advocacy initiative founded by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson (kpeterson@mediasourceinc.com) is a former News Editor ofSLJ.

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