What is your reaction to the way Lexington District One handled the controversial book on this year's summer reading list?

Only responses signed with names will be posted. Flamed (all capital letters), one-word responses and live links will not be posted.

  • GR, Columbia
    hey, i have an idea!  lets ban Huckleberry Finn.  it has plenty of racial slurs in it, and a load of cursing.  you guys are idiots, trying to ban quality books.  Huck Finn is mandatory summer reading for Lex/Rich 5 and i dont see WIS going out and researching why anybody put it on the summer reading list.  the only reason that story made the air is because WIS was having a slow newsday.  people need to stop freaking out about cursing in books, because it goes on even in the classics.  2 out of 3 of my books contain cursing and you probably wont see me running around shouting the words out.
  • JR, West Columbia
    I haven't read the book but from what I have heard of it the book is no worse than movies and real life situations that teens encounter everyday. Parents do not think that these scenes are spoken about weekly in life so I believe that it is no worse to read it in a novel. If you shelter teens from what happens in the real world they may not be able to handle it later on in life!
  • SL, Irmo
    Aren't summer reading lists handed out in June when school is over? Why are we only now hearing about this. If this had been reported in JUne maybe alot of other students would not have been subjected to this book. Why did parents wait until now to report it that is my question. I have two children who went to Lex 5 and I either pre-read or read when they weren't, every book they had chose. Had I found one offensive I would have started questioning the school board immediately.
  • MG
    Come on! Around the same time that these kids are getting out of school, WIS is playing "Passions"- a TV14 show that depicts sexual and adult content that completely puts them out of the running for being the source of moral authority for the community. You're now pushing censorship?...that's a quality use of the media...considering how watered down what you guys typically report on is, it's fitting that you take up the cause of keeping honors-level reading text out of the hands of local students...did anyone check that this book is highly regarded for its honest depiction of life before skimming to the steamy parts and ruling it profane?
  • KD, Blythewood
    While I believe it is good that you report stories like this on the news, I felt it was completely unnecessary for David Stanton to read an actual explicit excerpt from the book on the evening news.  Simply reporting that there was objectionable information contained in the book would have been enough.
  • MV, Lugoff
    I think it is a great move in the right direction. I wish smoking was baned in all public places in Columbia, after all it is known to cause cancer and second hand smoke is just as bad for you . I say it is a no brainer.
  • AJ, Columbia
    It appears that the teacher(s) or the person recommending summer reading books haven't read or looked at the introduction in the book.
  • GC, Columbia
    Are parents today just extremely ignorant or in denial? Do they not realize that their 9th grade children are already doing the same 'activities' and using the same language as in this book that they're complaining about?! Teenagers are no angels or saints, and I hope these parents don't assume that their kid is any different. 9th graders these days are already participating in sexual activities, getting pregnant, using obscene language, using drugs and alcohol, and so on. So, I cannot see how this book is any worse than what kids are already doing and what they already know and hear from their peers in school, television, and music. It's no different. These parents need to get a clue! The worst part of the situation is that these kids were told that they do not have to read ANY books for their summer reading program(I'm sure the kids are really upset about that--yeah right)!!! As if the kids of the South Carolina school system need an exuse to be less intelligent than the rest of the nation!
  • RR
    I am a mother of 4 boys and if i was to have seen or heard that my children were reading that book or that it was in their school;I myself would react as any normal parent would i do not think that book is not for children at all and i have seen or read the book i am going by what i am hearing and reading on the news.I hope it all gets fixed very soon because my children are in gilbert schools and i do not want to hear my children even metioning a book like that.
  • BR, Lexington
    WIS's question, "Did the school district handle the book situation correctly?" My answer is a resounding, "No!" The District should have stood by their reading choices and made it clear that the list contained quality literature, but because  the district serves a wide and varied population, it is always wise for parents concerned that their children be sheltered from certain real-life situations and issues closely monitor their children's reading material. Personally, I believe that simply reading about an issue does not necessarily make one want to go out and mimic the behavior. Often, it has quite the opposite effect. But then I have never believed the old ostrich was a good model for dealing with the tough questions in life. From seeing Ms. Wright and the others on television, I can conclude that they are not old enough to remember the McCarthy years, but I do. I was a child then, but I remember how terrifying it was to hear about book bannings and attempts to squelch intellectual freedom.  This latest book controversy gives me the same feelings. Let me clearly state that I do not condone irresponsible sex, the use of illegal drugs, or self-mutilation in any way, shape, or form. As a matter of fact, I do not like much of what I see happening in our society today. I do, however, strongly believe the ONLY way we can effectively fight these detrimental forces is through education. And in order to educate, we must be willing to be honest with our young people and the issues they (or their peers) face. Literature is one of the best ways to open lines of communication with young people. I do hope that Ms. Wright thoroughly read the book her child chose, and when she finished, I pray she sat down with her child and had a frank, honest, open conversation about her feelings regarding the content of the book and that she listened carefully to what her child also thought. What a truly wonderful opportunity to teach her child about the family's moral code; I do hope she didn't miss it. Regarding the vulgar language she complained about - I also find it very vulgar and I wince everytime I pass folks of all ages at a shopping mall and they are speaking in such a manner. Hearing such language has made neither me or my children or grandchildren speak in a vulgar way, and I do not believe that reading those words will have a negative effect either. The author chose to use those words not for their shock value, but in order to create a believable scenario. Literature that is not honest isn't good literature. (I am wondering if this lady no longer allows her child to go to malls because he/she may hear the "F word" used?) Finally, I must express my EXTREME disappointment in WIS's coverage of this situation. I have always relied on WIS for news because they have always seemed to steer away from sensatinalizing the news, but I must now rethink my news sources. Reporting of this story was blatantly one-sided. I wonder if there was any attempt at all to get an opposing viewpoint. I never heard the reporter ask Ms. Wright, young Mr. Whyte, or his mother, Ms. Whyte, if they had read the  entire book, and I wonder if the reporter read the book herself. How were the other "shocked" parents "shown" the book? Were they asked to read it or were certain passages pointed out to them? Taken out of context, quotes from many great pieces of literature can make very bad impressions! Was any attempt made to find out what the selection process entailed? The reporter made no mention of that either. And to state that some of the book was so explicit they couldn't share it on television? I really find that VERY hard to believe given the pap that runs on commercial TV every night. I will find out for myself as soon as I can find a copy of the book to buy. You see, I like to make up my own mind about an issue, as do many other people. Ms. Wright and WIS will probably be receiving notes of thanks from the author and publisher... They have done a great job of selling the book for them!
  • AA, Lexington
    I am a Lexington High School student. I saw your report on the book "Life is Funny" and it was not backed up with the correct information. I personally did not read this book. When students recieve the summer reading list they are allowed to choose which book they would like to read. It is for students that are in English 1-4. It is not just for 9th graders and is not a required book. It is also not just a Lexington High School reading list, it is a district list. It says on the brochure, "If you select a book which you find objectionable, abandon that book and select another." I think that this broadcast report was very bias and not fully researched.
  • BS, Columbia
    I have had a similar situation with my son's required reading. The disgusting language and sexual content was so graphic that I was totally disgusted with the book.  And, at the time I was a 46 year old. No wonder the morals of our young people are declining!
  • BP, Leesville
    I am a parent of a 10 year old and I see more sex materials on TV than I do anywhere. These kids are in highschool and a majority of them have already "fondled" and had "wet kisses". AS far as the F-- word, kids use that language. Don't make such a big deal about life, it can be "funny" let your child read it or not, reality is it all happens in life EVERYDAY
  • SM, Lexington
    After the row my English teacher had to go through in 1992-93 for us to read Dante's "Inferno," (we were Advanced-Placement seniors) I'm surprised anything gets through the cracks. Yet it seems that images of hell have nothing on this. Have they relaxed the reading standards for public schools in the past 15 years?
  • RM
    I agree with G.B. from Columbia.  I had the same problem with a "required reading" that my now 12th grader had when he was a 9th grader.
    When I questioned the selected book, I was told the book was chosen because the author was coming to the school.  I say hogwash with that mentality.  There are so many appropriate books out there and so many authors willing to do school workshops that choosing an inappropriate book is inexcusable.  It is okay to ask students to read during the summer, and I don't have a problem discussing sexuality with my kids.  I do have a problem with the double standards that are projected by the school system when they require such books to be read.  Just a little bit of research on their part and a little bit of time invested would be all that is required.  No more than they ask of our kids, right?
  • TW, Pelion
    I am not suprised that this book was on the list after seeing what my son's English class has been reading.  My son attends school in Lexington Dist One, and is in 10th grade.  His English class is reading a very well known book that I am having a difficult time believing that this is in school.  His is the book; Of Mice and Men.  I have heard of the book but never have (and never will) read it.  I was alarmed at the lanuage that is in this book (G** D***, Son of a B****) just to mention a few.  I strongly feel that this type of reading material has no place in our schools.  Isn't this what most of us try to teach against?  I must say though that his teacher has been understanding to my feelings and has offered to give him an alternate assignment.  Maybe putting ratings on books wouldn't be a bad idea!  Thanks to you WIS for following such items as this.
  • LC, West Columbia
    The only offensive book is one that is left unread.  I would much rather my child read a book than sit and play video games all day. Kudos to any school district that encourages children to read whether I agree with the book or not.
  • GP, West Columbia
    I'm not sure if requiring students to read over the summer is a good thing. If a student doesn't like to read, making them do it only turns them off more. However, if required, a high school student should be able to pick a book on their own to read before school ends. It would have to have approval from their teacher.
  • JM, Lexington
    Concerning the book "Life is funny" I would like to say that I am the mother of the parent that brought this to the attention of the public. I am so proud that I have raised a child that is willing to stand up for what is right. If everyone would have the courage that she has we would all live in much better world. If parents teach their children nothing else in life let it be that morals and family values are just as important as their education. Thank you for giving me the chance to speak out about this problem and for your invovlement in helping.
  • BP, Lexington
    If the students use that language in class they are punished so who in the world would assign that book for them to read? Obviously that had read it to assign it. Maybe the police should search his computer and see just why he wants to subject minors to sexual stories.
  • AB, Bishopville
    I can't believe a school would issue a reading list for students without SOMEONE checking the content first.Just let them read Playboy for that matter.
  • GG, West Columbia
    I understand how these parents feel about these books that are nominated by Lexington High school. My son is in 8th grade taking Eng 1.  I had a problem with his book "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the night time" using the F word throughout the book.  This was also from the Lexington High School reading list.
  • DT, West Columbia
    The controversy over "Life is Funny" is just the latest battle in an age-old conflict.  Teenagers seek to find out everything they can about life whether they are ready to know or not, while adults try to keep them from finding out too much too soon.  But of course teenagers eventually satisfy their curiosity - maybe even finding out more than they wanted to know - in spite efforts to suppress it.  Just as we did.
  • DG, Cayce
    I would be very interested in WIS researching just how these summer reading lists are composed and by whom.
  • JC, West Columbia
    How disgusting that the school district recommends books who's content they neglect to examine BEFORE they recommend them.  Explains why the whole system is neglecting the children across the board.
  • AG, Pelion
    Shame on Lexington District 1. I have two children in district 1 schools. First of all, what is this summer reading garbage! If a student likes to read, they will read. What happened to summer vacation. How would the teachers and administrators like to have to do an report and turn it in to the parents of district 1. OOPS! Sorry, I think they just did and they failed with flying colors.
  • KB, Sumter
    No longer recommending summer reading is the wrong choice. The district made a mistake and it has been corrected. Let's move on. We need to encourage our young people to read. Too many of them have given up reading in favor of video games.
  • DG, Cayce
    I would be very interested in WIS researching just how these summer reading lists are composed and by whom.
  • DT, West Columbia
    The controversy over "Life is Funny" is just the latest battle in an age-old conflict. Teenagers seek to find out everything they can about life whether they are ready to know or not, while adults try to keep them from finding out too much too soon. But of course teenagers eventually satisfy their curiosity - maybe even finding out more than they wanted to know - in spite efforts to suppress it. Just as we did.
  • JC, West Columbia
    How disgusting that the school district recommends books who's content they neglect to examine BEFORE they recommend them. Explains why the whole system is neglecting the children across the board.
  • AG, Pelion
    Shame on Lexington District 1. I have two children in district 1 schools. First of all, what is this summer reading garbage! If a student likes to read, they will read. What happened to summer vacation. How would the teachers and administrators like to have to do an report and turn it in to the parents of district 1. OOPS! Sorry, I think they just did and they failed with flying colors.
  • KB, Sumter
    No longer recommending summer reading is the wrong choice. The district made a mistake and it has been corrected. Let's move on. We need to encourage our young people to read. Too many of them have given up reading in favor of video games.
  • EM, Columbia
    That Terri Wright is an idiot. Pornography...grow up. I'll bet her husband is one satisfied customer.
  • MR, Lexington
    I am glad you reported on the summer reading book. I would like to know who creates these summer reading list and who critiques the books before they go on the list. I would like to know who put this book on the list and their ability ro be a high school teacher should be reevaluated. Does this mean parents need to read all summer reading books before allowing their children to read them. Why are we not still reading classics instead of these new trashy novels that teach our children nothing to better themselves.  And they want to know why our education system is so far behind everyone else! This is embarassing for Lexington High and I sure hope they make some changes before my children get there! Hats off to the mothers that brought this to your attention!
  • SC, Elgin
    This is not the only book.Last year my daughter had book called the summer of my german soldier.this book was a required reading book.this book had gd init racial slurs and other bad language.she was giving a f for not reading it.this is not what we want our children reading.i asked the principal.if i came up there a cussed what would happen.he said i would be removed from the property,then asked if my daughter cussed what would happen?she would be suspened.i then asked why do you let them read it then.he said he would not let his child read it.so why is mine allowed?
  • KH, Columbia
    I am mortified at Craig Melvin's 11 p.m. broadcast tonight. This report on Life is Funny is nothing short of the banned books mentality that took place during Senator McCarthy's congressional term in the 1950's. It is not the role of WIS to portray a blatent one-sided take on a controversy, and it is an embaressment that any parent would discourage reading liberally on any subject. What on earth is going on?
  • JW
    Clearly parents are only seeing the bad words and explicit scenes without understanding the context within which they are written. Keeping teens from reading this book keeps them sheltered from the real-life struggles of people outside suburbia and from understanding people from different walks of life.  What is important is that the literature is read and then talked about such that the negative behaviors discussed in the text are not seen as positive examples but as life experiences worthy of examination and in some cases, empathy.
  • JL, Florence
    I think this book should NOT have been approved for a 9th grade reading list-Even the most mature, responsible 9th grader is still a CHILD (13 or 14 years old?!) and is not emotionally ready to deal with the graphic sexual content in this novel. This novel specifically is especially inappropriate, because it glorifies casual sex, which is not the message we need to be sending to our teens.
  • HH, Winnsboro
    This so-called "controversial" summer reading assignment is a non-issue. It might help if 1) students actually read the books they were assigned for summer reading and 2) parents calmly and rationally discussed sexual situations (if their teenagers even brought up the issue). How long do we plan to shelter our children from the uncomfortable parts of life?  Stop being an illiterate prude and start talking to your children.
  • KH
    I think that the school is getting just as bad as television. Something has to be done.How can we as parents teach our children what is good or what is bad when they learn such bad stuff at school? School is supposed to be a great learning place, what happened? And we have to pay to so much to send our kids to school. Lets get back to the good old days when things didn`t cost so much and kids really learned what they needed to learn.I know that times have changed but, times can change again for the GOOD. Just something to thing about.
  • CS, Lexington
    get real people. If You have a problem with the book, don't read it. Quit whining about it and find something else to read, simple as that.
  • LF, Lexington
    I am extremely disappointed with our school district. My belief is that if a list of books is given for our children to read then school officials should be required to read the material first to insure quailty, moral literature is being suggested. Morality, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are problem enough without our schools suggesting our children read what I would consider pornographic material. Is Lexington One suggesting our children learn? Or, are they opening the door for them to yearn to experiment with something that could cause dangerous, life changing experiences?
  • KB, Lexington
    Although summer reading assignments are a good idea, they are not very practical.  My children are graduates of LHS and always read their assignments, but quite a number of students are not motivated to do so.  I work as a substitute for Lexington School District I and have seen first hand at the middle school level the futility of these assignments.
  • SY, Lexington
    Having a book on a recommended list does not compel any student to read it. Parents who are concerned about what their children are reading should discuss this with their children and not leave it up to the school system to police their child's reading materials. It is a shame that Lexington 1 will now no longer make recommendations for summer reading. I know that through the recommendations made by my children's school librarian we have discovered some amazing gems that we otherwise would never have known about. It's a shame that because a few parents were offended by recommened material (not required, an important distinction) that the district will simply abandon its efforts.
  • CC, West Columbia
    Our 12th grader chose the book because he thought it was going to be a fun book. After reading a short while, he gave us the book to return to the county library.  He said that he didn't want to read it because he didn't appreciate the content of bad language and inappropriate situations.  It's easy for parents to neglect verbally objecting to books like this because this type of literature is so common in the schools due to everyone's "rights."   We appreciate those who spoke out, and we plan to inform our children's high school about our opinions of the summer reading list. We hope the school district will follow through with their plans to not recommend specific titles.  There is a strong emphasis in our school district to promote character education.  We feel the literature that the students are being encouraged to read should reflect the same character qualities that the district holds in high esteem. We're glad the school district officials made a formal apology for allowing the book to be put on the list.
  • RB, Lexington
    The book was littered with vulgar words and descriptions.  There is no mistaking the fact that the book was "never" reviewed or read by a person who would approve such swill. If they said they reviewed them, what was the criteria they used? Moreover, the district's decision to no longer recommend books is a case of gross neglect for the education of our children.  As a Parent, I would hope that with as many highly paid people as there are in the district office they could find one person who could review and recommend books for content and place them on an approved reading list.  The district's decision is not surprising, given that the superintendent did not practice her '06 graduation address to the seniors and made the "slip" of indicating that in ten years we will have cars that can drive themselves so that we can "drink and drive." I feel she is utimatley responsible for the lack of attention given to this important assignment which is meant to enhance our childrens reading. As a parent I am aware that there were three books on the list that parents had complained about and that their comments were ignored.  Lexington #1 has one of the finest district's in the state but this is due to the Teachers and quality of the children's home life. The high standards and quality will continue to be present in the schools regardless of what the district administative staff does to undermind parent's concerns.
  • KH, Ridgeway
    The gist of the on-air ? was "Did the school handle the situation properly?" In a nutshell, No. Not when they selected a book I'll choose to believe no one on the committee had read completely. And definitely not when they abandoned summer reading lists. The last is a total cop- out. Educators, like parents, do not have the option of "taking their football and going home."
  • AP, Lexington
    It is censorship. High School students have the right to pick and read what they wish from the list, and they very well didn't have to choose that sole novel. That book was not MANDITORY and was in no way forced upon those students. If the district gets so caught up in offending anyone, they will dwindle the already-dwindling population of readers. 'Life is Funny' might not be appropriate to some mindsets, but it was also the reader's decision to choose that book, and if they are so careless as to not find out what it is about before reading it, those students don't care about reading in the first place. You can't censor life, so don't try censoring our books. It throws an atom bomb into the first amendment and destroys everything this country is built upon. And in the least, I refuse to believe those parents understand they are squashing out the light that keeps literature in our schools, our minds, and our nature.
  • GR, Columbia
    I encountered a similar situation a few years ago when my daughter was a junior at Irmo HS. Several parents complained about the inappropriateness of a book on the list (filled with sexually explicit scenes, vulgarity, etc.) I find it hard to believe that HS teachers serve on a review committee that selects summer reading lists & these types of books still get on lists. There are so many great works of literature to place on summer reading lists. Parents should not feel they have to screen the book lists - we should be able to trust the school to do that. I think Lex. One's decision to drop school selected lists & let parents pick books for students to read in the summer is a ridiculous overreaction & a cop out. They are abdicating their responsibility to select reading material that is appropriate. How hard is it to come up with a short list of books that are thought-provoking, wholesome, etc.? There certainly isn't a lack of titles to choose from!
  • BL, Newberry
    I have not read the book on Lexington's summer reading list. However, I am greatly concerned when I hear people condemn a book just because it has strong language and adult situations.  Often authors use such techniques to show that readers should avoid similar situations. Perhaps the book will "speak" to a young reader who finds himself or herself in similar situations, and the book can help that reader cope with those unfortunate situations. While such books are not appropriate for all students, the books should NOT be left off the list.  It is the responsibility of parents to read the books  and to help their children select those books which are appropriate for them.  Remember, it is the district's job to provide     reading for all students.  Many of our students live in a world filled with bad language and adult situations. Is it not a school's responsibility to help those students cope with their less than perfect worlds?
  • KC, Lexington
    As a mother of a 9th grade Lexington one student I was quite upset when I heard about the book.  I also heard that Lexington one was going to question the teachers whose job it was to read the selected book before it made the list. Was this done and if not why?  If it was done what was the consequence for those teachers?  I would not be too happy for someone who thought this book was suitable for our children teaching them. To say the school will not give out summer reading list is not the answer. The lists are a good guide for what the children could read - a better system for screening is what they should strive for.  To say no more lists is a cowards way out.  It really tell our kids - if you have a problem don't solve it just drop it!
  • VA, Swansea
    I do not agree with any mandatory school work during the summer. The summer should be a vacation for the students and their family.  I have two teenagers in high school and it is a constant struggle throughout the summer to be sure they are doing their assignments.  Any school work during the summer should be on a voluntary basis for extra credit.
  • H, Hopkins
    I have taught 31 years and have never required a  student to read a book that I had not completely read.  This is was a horrible and totally unacceptable mistake.
  • DP, Leesville
    I think that the book Life is funny was not apporpriate but, there was more than one book on the summer reading list. I also think that the school bored was correct in what they said about the book. With all the books in the world how could the school bored know that ONE book was not right.
  • TW, West Columbia
    After seeing this report on the book "Life is Good" and seeing on how the parents reactions are to it I can understand there opinions. However the "graphic material" pointed out in this book is hardly anything new to any freshman in high school.  As much as parents may not want to hear it I remember being confronted with this sort of material as ealry as middle school.  Our youth is facing adult situations earlier and earlier, thats something were going to have to live with. The way I see it, the better the childeren are educated about this material, the better they will be come at handling it.