SC Police Union Challenges Summer Reading List with “The Hate U Give” and “All American Boys”

A South Carolina police union denounces local high school's summer reading list for featuring the acclaimed and best-selling books by Angie Thomas, Brendan Kiely, and Jason Reynolds, because of their "anti-police" message.

The summer reading list for Charleston County District’s Wando High School’s ninth grade class was recently challenged by the local police union because it features Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds’s All American Boys, both acclaimed and best-selling YA titles about police brutality.

According to the Guardian, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3 John Blackmon stated that they had “received an influx of tremendous outrage at the selections by this reading list,” questioning why the school had chosen to “focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police” when “there are other socioeconomic topics that are available.”

The students were tasked with reading one of eight books, only two of which tackle police brutality.

"Our books are not anti-police, they are anti-police brutality," said Kiely, Reynolds, and Thomas in a joint statement. "We're proud of the teachers at Wando HS who are using literature that reflects the lives of so many young people across this country. To deny these books from reading lists would deny too many young people reflections of the reality they know and experience."

School principal Dr. Sherry Eppelsheimer stated that a complaint about the books had been received and that the school will follow the procedures outlined in its policies. A committee will review the books and listen to the perspectives of the complaint filer and the teacher who chose the books. The committee will then report to the school superintendent, who will make a decision.


The National Coalition Against Censorship has written to the school offering its help in managing the process and urging it to keep the books on its list.

“Removing books that have been selected for their educational value solely because the ideas expressed in them conflict with some parents’ political or moral beliefs would improperly allow parents to dominate the public education process with their opinions,” it wrote. “For young readers in Charleston, The Hate U Give and All American Boys offer insight into the racial injustices many people of color experience, and inspiration for young activists who desire change.”

A forthcoming film adaptation releasing October 19 will increase the profile of The Hate U Give, often hailed as a “Black Lives Matter” YA novel, which already made American Library Association’s list of “most challenged” books in 2017. Thomas, in her recent keynote at SLJ’s Day of Dialog, told librarians present, “If some of our current political leaders read books about black people as children, we wouldn’t have to say ‘black lives matter.’ If they read books about Latino children, there wouldn’t be talk of building walls, but building bridges.

See also:
The Hate U Give Returns to H.S. Shelves in Katy, TX
With Books, You Can Change the World—and Future Politicians Who Tweet, Says Angie Thomas at SLJ Day of Dialog
Making the Personal Political | Angie Thomas on The Hate U Give
Brendan Kiely’s and Jason Reynolds’s CSK Author Honor Speeches for All American Boys
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