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Wake Parents Group Challenges School System's Reading List

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Wake County Board of Education could vote next week to remove three books from the school system's required reading list.

Called2Action, a parents group, objects to Alice Walker's "The Color Purple," Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War" and Toni Morrison's "Beloved," saying the novels contain vulgar language and graphic sexual content.

"The Color Purple" won the Pulitzer Prize for literature, and Toni Morrison's "Beloved" won a Nobel Prize. Still, the group says the books are not appropriate for middle-school and high-school students.

"I couldn't read these excerpts over the air (on television)," said Steve Noble, a member of Called2Action. "You'd be in trouble, I'd be embarrassed, but yet, you can hand it to a 13-year-old and say, 'Here, you need to read this.' It's wrong."

Noble said many parents are unaware of the graphic content in the books.

"There's innumerable good works of literature available to the school system, so why these?" he asked.

At the same time that the books are being challenged in Wake County, they are also being celebrated this week at Duke University's Festival of the Book.

"People will always want to ban books," said the festival's director, Aaron Greenwald. "And we should always question that."

""The Color Purple' and 'The Chocolate War' are classics that tell remarkable human stories," Greenwald added.

The school board is currently reviewing the parents group's concerns.

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