Neil Gaiman’s novel “Neverwhere,” which was temporarily taken out of classrooms and libraries at a New Mexico high school after a parent complained about its sexual content, has been restored to Alamogordo High School.
The book by Gaiman had been taught in sophomore English classrooms at the school and had been available in the high school library. Staff stopped teaching the novel and took it off library shelves while district staff reviewed the book and decided whether or not it was appropriate.
But according to the Kids’ Right to Read Project, the district now states the book is “educationally suitable, balanced and age-appropriate” and the novel will return to classrooms and the library.
The Kids’ Right to Read Project had previously composed a letter that it gave to the school district, requesting that “Neverwhere” remain at Alamogordo High School.
“We're thrilled to hear that Neverwhere will be returning to classrooms,” KRRP coordinator Acacia O’Connor said after the verdict was announced, according to industry newsletter Shelf Awareness. “We hope that the administration will continue protecting the academic freedom of its teachers and students as the district evaluates its policies.”
The book was challenged after parent Nancy Wilmott looked through the book. Her daughter was reading it for class and Wilmott was offended by a scene with sexual content.
“I really think that the school needs to let the parents know what their students are going to read beforehand, not the day before or after," Wilmott said in an e-mail written to the Alamogordo Daily News at the time. "I am not a closed-minded parent that thinks my kids should hear no evil. Just not something with such graphic detail – a intimate situation between two adults.”
After the book was challenged, another parent in the district, Melissa Wilde, created a petition asking that “Neverwhere” be restored to the high school. The petition also stated that those who signed it wished for “the [school] board to work with its teachers to create a better policy for dealing with any future issues like this, that gives parents [an] outlet but that also clearly respects teachers' judgment and students' freedom to explore a variety of subjects.” The petition garnered more than 300 signatures.