Local News

Book Pulled From Wilson County School Library

Posted October 14, 2004

— A book meant to teach children an important lesson about life is at the center of debate in a local school district.

"Diamond Dogs" is now off the shelf at the Speight Middle School library in Wilson because of sexually explicit passages.

Cliff and Karyn Harwood's 11-year-old daughter picked the Alan Watt novel from an accelerated reading list to read for extra credit. The couple said their daughter did not know what she was getting until she brought the book home.

"She came to me very concerned and said, 'Mama, I don't really think that you want me to read this book,'" concerned parent Karyn Harwood said.

"Diamond Dogs" is about a high school football star who kills a fellow student while driving drunk. The book describes sexual encounters between the main character and his girlfriend.

"[It has] strong, explicit sexual content," Karyn Harwood said.

The Harwood's called their daughter's principal, who decided to pull the book out of the school library until a school panel could review it.

The Harwoods said they are not upset with the school or school system.

"I don't expect one librarian to sit there and read over 800 books and go through them. They can't do that," Cliff Harwood said.

The Harwoods have started a campaign for a book rating system similar to the ones used for television and movies.

"If they can put a plastic wrapper over a Playboy magazine, why can't they put a little rating on the back of a book?" said Cliff Harwood.

"Children come from all types of families, backgrounds, values, religions and customs," media coordinator Linda Prosesus said.

Prosesus said schools rely on things like reviews, professional journals and author reputation when choosing library books. In the end, she believes it is up to parents to decide what is acceptable.

"Every parent has that same right for their own child," Prosesus said.

The Harwoods hope a rating system will help. They plan to voice their concerns to the Wilson County school board next week.

The copy of "Diamond Dogs" was the only copy in the Wilson County school system.

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