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Parent protest over book choice
Old 05-08-2011, 08:45 AM
 
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My class has just started reading My Side of the Mountain and I had a parent tell me that she doesn't want her child reading this book because it encourages children to run away from home (her words). She went to the Principal and is trying to get other parents to side with her. This is the first time I have read this book with my class. Anyone else ever have this issue with this book and parents? If so, how did you handle it? Any other books out there that might cause a stir that I should be aware of? Teaching 5th grade for the first time, has been interesting this year! TIA


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Old 05-08-2011, 08:53 AM
 
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I wonder if you have a list of discussion questions and area's that you are going to emphasize that you could share with her to reassure her that you are not encouraging the kids to run away (maybe even the opposite).

At this age many, many of the good books have some aspect to them that could be discouraging to protective parents, but reading and discussing them in healthy atmospheres is a good idea.
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My Side of the Mountain
Old 05-08-2011, 10:06 AM
 
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I have used this book for many years...it is a classic and the author is a fine writer. In light of so many other books students choose to read these days, I wonder why the fuss with this book? Your librarian may be able to help with such 'book censorship' issues.
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Book
Old 05-08-2011, 10:25 AM
 
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In 14 years of using this book, I've never had a problem with it! Normally, the parents and children really enjoy it. The only book I've ever had a problem with is My Brother Sam is Dead because of some of the language used in it.
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My opinion
Old 05-08-2011, 11:14 AM
 
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I'd find a similar adventure story and have her child do an independent study while the class is reading the novel. He can do the same basic activites you do with My Side of the Mountain (elements of literature, character analysis, etc.) I wouldn't change the novel study because of one parent.

Ask your librarian to pull reviews on the book. I used it when I taught 6th grade and never had any complaints. Boys love the book.


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I taught that novel in the 80's
Old 05-08-2011, 03:14 PM
 
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in a middle school class. I never had any problems. It is a great survival novel, which is high interest for that age group. I would allow that child to do a different assignment and not give the issue another thought.
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5th grade literature gets more "mature"
Old 05-10-2011, 07:28 PM
 
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I agree with earlier posts of checking with your librarian - if I've ever pulled a book that could be "questionable" - she lets me know when I check it out. For instance, one of my favorite books is The Giver (spoiler alert!) it implies that they kill babies - the librarian was concerned that parents might have an issue with this. However, some of the books my students have read are pretty crazy - Terror at the Zoo has a criminal whose weapon is a knife and he goes after 2 kids locked in a zoo, in Zach's Lie, his dad is arrested for trafficking drugs. My students love these books and I haven't had any parent complaints (although they probably haven't read these books).

I know a lot of teachers in my grade who have read My Side... with their class and haven't had any issues.

All in all, it's one parent - if your principal supports you, I wouldn't be concerned. Since she's trying to recruit other parents, I would send a letter home describing this classic book and it's importance to student learning and direct any questions to you.
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Thanks
Old 05-11-2011, 06:50 PM
 
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Thanks everyone for the great advice. Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, we no longer have a librarian for whom I could ask questions. However, my Principal has been wonderful and spoke to the parent. This parent has been a thorn in my side all year long and just has to complain about everything. Other parents are not listening to her (thank goodness) and we have already started the book, even her child is reading it. She calmed down a bit after I told her that a condensed version of the story was in the student's LA Anthology and I gave her a copy to read herself.
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Old 05-12-2011, 03:24 PM
 
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I have a class set of My side of the Mountain and have used it for years with no problems. Jean Craighead George is an award winning author of long standing. I wouldn't worry about it. The parent is crazy
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Love this author!
Old 05-13-2011, 01:30 PM
 
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Jean Craighead George is one of the authors my students study. I started showing the movie of that book yesterday. I was afraid that it was dated, but my students are LOVING it! They can't wait to watch the rest. Jean Craighead George has said, "I don't preach to children about taking care of nature. I teach them to love nature so that they will want to take care of it on their own." I love that. Every year I have students with a strong connection to her writing.


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What?!?!
Old 05-20-2011, 02:57 PM
 
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I'm sorry, I just had to laugh. My fifth graders loved this book and we talked so much of how cool it would be to try to live like that...not one of them ran away
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Old 05-20-2011, 04:39 PM
 
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I am SO sorry to hear that you have had this issue!
I had a couple of parents send the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books from our library back to school this year with notes to not allow their child to read this series, but no parents contacted our principal. I contacted these parents directly and shared my upcoming applications of this series and they we very excited to learn that we would be dissecting the "what NOT to do" lessons these books teach. Most of my students adore the Wimpy Kid series. We had a class discussion about what kind of person Greg Heffley is and whether or not they would choose to have a friend that behaved as he does. We then made a double bubble map comparing Greg Heffley to their own best friend. My students identified this character as a model of what kind of person NOT to be. It also helped them understand character development on a deeper level. We even rewrote a few of the scenes showing how a TRUE friend would act and renamed our collection Diary of A Strong Student. They loved it!

I believe that literature can teach children how not to behave as well as how to act. The real issue is ensuring that the students recognize this as well.

Hope all works out for you!
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