Book Titles in Schools

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On September 20, RISD became aware of a parent concern related to optional book club choices within a junior high classroom. That concern has circulated and led to additional questions from other parents related to how book titles are selected for RISD libraries and classrooms, and the guidelines teachers use when selecting discretionary book titles to supplement classroom libraries.

RISD has reviewed the initial concern, which was limited to one classroom teacher and involved a variety of teacher-selected supplemental book titles made available for students to choose from in a book of choice exercise. Some of the titles explored themes that involved content that was more mature and explicit than appropriate for junior high students. Students in the class were not required to read any specific title, and parents of students who chose to read one of the titles with mature content were first required to approve the choice through a specific consent process. Last year, one of the titles was provided to the teacher by the former director of ELAR as a potential choice option for GT student book clubs. Regardless, after reviewing the content of the selected books, the district acknowledges that the material included in the supplemental books in question was indeed inappropriate and is grateful that the concern was brought forward.

As a result of this situation, the district is temporarily pausing classroom activities involving such teacher-selected book titles to ensure they can be vetted and approved by district teaching and learning staff. In addition, RISD is reviewing the guidelines and criteria that teachers must follow when selecting supplemental book titles for their classrooms. RISD is also taking steps to ensure that any of the titles in question are removed from junior high supplemental classroom library collections, if necessary. The district apologizes that this happened and is taking steps to ensure it doesn’t occur moving forward.

On a wider scale, the situation has prompted questions from other RISD parents, and the district would like to make the book title selection process clear:

School Libraries
Titles in RISD school libraries are vetted and selected through a process detailed by district guidelines. No titles in RISD libraries are required to be read by any student, and library titles exist to provide a variety of optional reading material to engage students with a variety of interests and who come from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.

Classroom Libraries
Specific titles in classroom libraries are typically provided by RISD after being vetted and selected by RISD Teaching & Learning staff for use in classroom reading assignments. Titles in RISD classroom libraries are then selected by teachers to utilize as options for students, but no titles in RISD classroom libraries are required to be read by any student.

Supplemental Classroom Titles
Some teachers use their professional judgment to select additional books to supplement the classroom library selections. Books chosen by teachers as supplemental classroom titles may not be used for required reading, but may be offered as part of optional reading exercises. RISD is currently reviewing the guidelines and criteria that teachers must follow if they choose to select supplemental book titles for their classrooms. 

An existing process is in place for parents to both review and challenge any titles found in a school library or classroom library, including supplemental teacher-selected titles. Parents who wish to learn more about school library titles are encouraged to contact their school’s library information technology educator or visit the LITE website here.

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