We understand the fine balance that public schools strive to maintain between strong educational missions and respect for diverse ideologies. When one parent in Lebanon, Kentucky objected to their child reading the book, Looking for Alaska by John Green, the school provided an alternative book as is procedure. It’s a practice that we often support. The Office for Intellectual Freedom defends and admires the education and skill that teachers, like Emily Veatch, use when implementing a curriculum that will engage and challenge students. Looking for Alaska is an award winning choice. In addition, we respect parents who are involved in their children’s education and make hard choices that align with their beliefs. But not every family is the same and we can’t allow one parent to dictate the curriculum for all the other students in Marion County High School.
When John Green posted on social media about the removal of his book from the 12th grade English class, he encouraged readers to email support. The Office for Intellectual Freedom encourages you too! While we’re disappointed that the 2016 seniors are being denied the right to read the book because of this one complaint, we are pleased that the administration is following policy in creating a reconsideration committee to evaluate the book for future use in the curriculum. The American Library Association’s OIF director, Jamie LaRue sent a letter for the principal, Mike Abell to share with the reconsideration committee.
Horn Book describes Looking for Alaska as “a mature novel, peopled with intelligent characters who talk smart, yet don’t always behave that way, and are thus notably complex and realistically portrayed teenagers.” The novel’s emotionally intense scenes are an attempt to illustrate the struggle with teenage relationships and mental illness – an especially appropriate subject for study in high school literature classes. It deserves its place in the classroom and on the library shelf.
Read the full letter below.
The community in Lebanon has been vocal in sharing their opinions. We like to see active participation in education but we can’t let objections obliterate the First Amendment rights of students. Now is your opportunity to share your support of this book and the English teacher who guides the discussion around this amazing novel. Support the librarians, both school and public who are rallying to retain access to Looking for Alaska on library shelves. Support John Green, the author, who writes about tough subjects and creates a joy of reading in teens and adults.
The original reconsideration meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, May 2, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. in the Marion County High School Library
This meeting is now open to the public. If you can attend to support Emily Veatch and Looking for Alaska that would be phenomenal. If you can’t attend, we encourage you to write a letter and email it to Marion County Public Librarian, Jama Watts, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or share your support on social media.
Lebanon Enterprise @
Marion County Public Library @
Marion County Public Schools @
Kentucky Council of Teachers of English @
Kentucky Association of School Librarians @
Author John Green @
English Teacher Emily Veatch @