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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Book ban debated in Dover-Sherborn schools



(HarperCollins book cover by Leo and Diane Dillon)

When does responsible education turn into censorship?

That’s the question the Dover-Sherborn Regional School Committee will be grappling with for at least the next few weeks as members decide whether or not to ban a popular but controversial book from the 6th grade curriculum.

After 13 parents complained that “So Far From the Bamboo Grove” is racist and sexually explicit, a book review committee, made up mostly of teachers and administrators, unanimously voted to recommend banning the book from the classroom. The School Committee will now have the final say.

The book, by Massachusetts author Yoko Kawashima Watkins, is a fictionalized autobiography told from the perspective of an 11-year-old Japanese girl. The girl and her family have to flee northern Korea at the end of World War II, a perilous journey because of the Koreans' animosity toward the Japanese, who had occupied their country for 35 years.

At a school committee meeting last week, several parents and teachers praised the book and the annual visit from the anti-war author, and a couple of parents explained why they feel the book is inappropriate for 6th graders.

Read more of the story in tomorrow's Globe West.

-- Lisa Kocian

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