Kids' book not banned

For the first time in six years, an Oak Harbor parent went before the school board Monday to request that a book be removed from the school’s libraries.

Anna Preciado, a mother of three school-age children, objected to “It is Perfectly Normal,” a book by Robie Harris which deals with human sexuality and issues of puberty. The book is geared for the pre-pubescent audience, and has been on the shelves of the district’s elementary and middle schools for 10 years.

Preciado’s request to have the book removed was denied by the Instructional Materials Committee and Superintendent Rick Schulte before she took her appeal to the school board.

Her appeal was rejected in a four-to-one vote by the board.

Kathy Jones supported keeping the book in the schools, but felt it should be uniformly limited to fifth grade students and older, and so cast the dissenting vote.

“I agreed with the librarians, nurses, teachers and fellow board members, however, after reviewing the book, especially the pictures, I felt it was more appropriate for older children,” she said. She noted that the curruculm review team rated the book as best for fifth through eighth grade students.

Schulte said each school library has their own policy regarding what books are chosen and who can use them.

“The system allows individual librarians to work with parents to determine what is appropriate,” Schulte said.

Preciado, who works for the district as an interpreter, felt the community needs to know what is in the school district libraries, and she was disappointed with the decision.

“I don’t agree with it,” Preciado said of the board’s decision, “but it was done respectfully.”

Francisco Preciado said their fifth grade son brought the book to his parents’ attention. “My son said it was ‘dirty’ book,” he said.

The Preciados objected to what they called the book’s casual treatment of sexual intercourse, and graphic illustrations which they felt were more like “poses” than educational presentations.

“The book is very graphic,” Anna said. “It basically teaches kids how to masturbate.”

She also felt the book was biased toward promoting a gay lifestyle, and that it ignored the Christian faith and moral values. “It’s important that as a parent I stood up for what I believe in,” she said.

In her appeal request she wrote: “I believe this book can be an open door to the start of pornography because of the way it’s presented.”

A survey of several elementary school libraries showed that the book was checked out, in at least one case to a parent.

The Olympic View library copy has been listed as missing since last year, but librarian Nicole Bouvion said there is another one on order.

“I think it’s appropriate to keep it on the shelves,” she said. “Students, especially older ones, need to have access to this information.”

She said the library doesn’t have an age limit but they try to steer younger children away from it.

Mary Campbell, managing librarian for the Oak Harbor Sno-Isle Library, said the system has 19 copies of the 1994 book, but none are on hand at the Oak Harbor branch.

The book is listed in the Sno-Isle system as a “juvenile” book, which Campbell said should indicate to parents that it is suitable for children.

She said the author has penned many children’s books, including a sequel to “It is Perfectly Normal” for pre-teens called “It’s So Amazing.”

Campbell said the library buys books that it feels meet the needs of the community.

“Judging by the number of copies it would seem to be considered a popular and important book,” she said. “It’s perfectly normal.”

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