Graphic Novel Pulled From Elementary School Library After Parent Complains

| by Karin Sun
Amityville graphic novelAmityville graphic novel

A North Carolina elementary school has pulled a graphic novel from its school library after the parent of a first grader complained about the book's content.

Kay Walker, the mother of a first grade student at Myra Lake Elementary School in Knightsdale, North Carolina, complained to school authorities after her son checked out the graphic novel "Amityville" from the school library on Nov. 16, WNCN reports. The book has since been removed from the library.

The graphic novel tells the story of the supernatural events that occurred at a famous haunted house in Amityville, Long Island, in the 1970s. It is part of the "Junior Graphic Ghost Stories" series, which consists of six graphic novels that retell famous ghost stories and legends for young readers. The series, which was published by Rosen Publishing in 2006, also includes books about the Flying Dutchman, the legend of Sleepy Hollow, and the ghosts of Civil War soldiers.

According to the book's publisher, the book was written on a reading level appropriate for students in grades 2 to 3, but targets the interest of older students in grades 3 to 6. The publisher's website claims that the novel's "comic book format" helps engage "struggling readers."

Walker said the spooky subject matter of "Amityville" was not appropriate for students of any age.

"It was talking about a man who murders his family and shows a man walking with his shotgun going to his parents and his sister and brother,” she told WNCN.

"To make it towards kids who are so young and they’re just learning what is right and what’s wrong, and giving them these ideas, it just it blows my mind," she continued.

"I couldn’t imagine a teacher pulling this book off the library and sitting in front of her kindergarten or first grade class reading it to them."

Walker took pictures of the book and posted them to Facebook, where she received many responses from other parents, WNCN reported. 

Shortly after the concerned parent complained to school officials, she was told that the book had been removed from the library at Myra Lake Elementary.

Walker has submitted a formal request to the Wake County school board to review the novel's content. She told WNCN that she hopes to have the book removed from all schools in the district, and also plans to write a letter to the author of the book, John Perritano, asking him why he would write such a graphic story for a young audience.

Wake County Schools has released a statement in response to the parent's complaint.  

“In accordance with Board of Education policy a committee is formed once an official request is made to review a book," the statement said, as reported by WNCN. "This committee follows the review process as put forth by policy and then makes a recommendation regarding the book in a timely manner."

Although the school said it has already removed the book from the library, district policy states that the book was supposed to remain on library shelves until the review process was completed, although the parent could have requested that the book be off limits to her child while the review was taking place.

The school board is currently still reviewing the novel and has not yet reached a decision. 

This is not the first time a book featuring controversial subject matter has been challenged in the Wake County Schools district. In 2014, East Wake High School banned Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" from its English curriculum after an official review of the book determined that it did not hold enough literary merit in the way it addressed sexual violence, according to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. 

Sources: WNCN, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Rosen Publishing Website

Photo Credit: WNCN