When author Cory Doctorow heard that a summer program in which high school students would read his book “Little Brother” had been canceled, he didn’t take the decision sitting down.
Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, Fla. had planned a program in which every student would read “Brother” over the summer and then talk about the novel when school started again in the fall. However, the principal of the high school decided to cancel the program after hearing about what book had been selected. According to Publishers Weekly, a parent had complained to the principal, Dr. Michael Roberts, about profanity in the novel. (Doctorow says there is a reference to a profane word but the word itself is not written.)
Doctorow wrote in a column for the website Boing Boing, of which he is an editor, that a member of the Booker T. Washington High School English department, Mary Kate Griffith, told him that Roberts was concerned about “the book's positive view of questioning authority, lauding "hacker culture", and discussing sex and sexuality in passing.”
The book is still an option for eleventh-graders to read over the summer.
Doctorow wrote in his column that his publisher, Tor Books, is sending 200 copies of “Brother” to Booker T. Washington High School.
“I think that the role of an educator is to encourage critical thinking and debate, and that this is a totally inappropriate way to address "controversial" material in schools,” he wrote on BoingBoing.
He also told PW, “I'm pretty sure that the principal at Booker T., like most career educators, is a good and principled person who is trying to do his job as he sees it. I happen to disagree – vehemently – with this decision, but that doesn’t make him an evil censor or an enemy of art. It does, however, make him wrong – at least in my view.”
According to PW, Doctorow said he will still video-chat with students at the high school who want to discuss the book this fall.