Parent loses fight to get books banned at Fond du Lac middle school

By Sharon Roznik • Gannett Wisconsin Media • February 19, 2010

A young-adult book challenged by a Fond du Lac parent will remain on the library shelf at Theisen Middle School.

A reconsideration committee of the Fond du Lac School District voted unanimously Thursday night to keep available for students the book titled “One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies.”

Parent Ann Wentworth, who had requested the book be removed because of what she viewed as sexually explicit, age-inappropriate content, said she was disappointed with the committee’s decision.

“Ultimately I’d like to see a policy change in how (school) literature is selected,” she said.

Wentworth’s request reached the ears of Sonya Sones, the award-winning author of the book.

In a letter written to the school district and read at the meeting by Superintendent Jim Sebert, Sones stated: “If Ms. Wentworth thinks the book is inappropriate for her own child, then by all means she should not allow her child to read it. But it would be unfair and inappropriate for her to try to force her own personal beliefs on every family with children attending Theisen Middle School, or any other school in the district.”

Sones added later in her letter, “As Clare Booth Luce so eloquently put it, ‘Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there.'”

Wentworth said she will go ahead with the process to request removal of six other books from the Theisen library, including the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series, another set of books by Sones, and “Get Well Soon” by Julie Halpern.

Fond du Lac Public Library Director Ken Hall, who serves on the reconsideration committee, said to prejudge a book and remove it from a library takes away the rights of others.

“I found it to be a sweet book, something I felt a reluctant reader would read,” he said. “I could never vote to say we must protect all families from this.”

About 36 people attended the reconsideration meeting held at Fond du Lac High School. Of the 36, 10 people signed up to speak.

Taxpayer and Theisen parent Will Jewson said “moral judgment cannot be formed on subjects inaccessible.”

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