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There’s no question reading is an important way for learners of all ages. You go new places, you expand your understanding of the world, even when reading about horrific events. That’s why it’s baffling that Ohio School Board president Debe Terhar is trying to ban the reading of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”.

The Columbus Dispatch reports Terhar said at a school board meeting, “I don’t want my grandchildren reading it, and I don’t want anyone else’s children reading it. It should not be used in any school for any Ohio K-12 child. If you want to use it in college somewhere, that’s fine.” As it stands, “The Bluest Eye”, set in Lorain, Ohio, is on the school board’s suggested reading list for high school juniors. School districts ultimately pick the books for their classes.

Board member and Ohio Christian University president Mark Smith agreed with Terhar, arguing the book is “quite divisive, and the benefit educationally is questionable at the least.” He added, “I see an underlying socialist-communist agenda … that is anti what this nation is about.” This isn’t the first time “The Bluest Eye” has come under fire. Last month, an Alabama senator tried to ban the book because of its graphic rape scene and failed.

These arguments are completely absurd; they’re racist and just downright bad teaching. Toni Morrison has won both a Nobel and Pulitzer for her novels; kids should absolutely be exposed to her powerful prose and magical storytelling. Morrison should be read and reread.

Smith and Terhar are also wildly underestimating the very children that need to be challenged in school. To assume that at ages 16 and 17 they can’t deal with an honest discussion of race and rape robs them of the chance to develop as adults. The book might be “divisive”, but learning to form and defend opinions based on fact is something kids will carry with them well into adulthood. Argument over literature is a good thing. And the accusation that the book is has socialist overtones is ridiculous. It’s hard to understand how someone who’s read “The Bluest Eye” can see it as a socialist work. And calling it a socialist work says Morrison and her characters are un-American others who don’t deserve attention. Besides, a book that might have a socialist or communist message deserves to be understood as well.

Teens are already wrestling with tough issues when it comes to their identity and the book the school board seeks to ban might actually be really beneficial to a teen trying to answer the same questions the characters are. Educators need to take the kid gloves off when handling their students.

Are there any books you think kids shouldn’t read in high school?

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