Give a Boy a Gun Triggers Challenge in Pennsylvania

Give a Boy a Gun Triggers Challenge in Pennsylvania

A reconsideration committee for Bangor Area (Pa.) Middle School unanimously voted to keep Todd Strasser’s Give a Boy a Gun on library shelves over a student’s aunt’s concerns over the book’s depiction of school violence. School board members agreed January 21, deciding against tweaking materials selection policy.

“I’m not trying to censor the book,” said Kathryn Ann Frangos, whose nephew is an 8th-grader at the school, in the January 22 Easton Express-Times. “I just want parents to know this type of material is out there, and they should be aware of what their children are reading.” She argued that school violence would be better addressed in a group than by having students coming across the topic in a school library book.

Published in the aftermath of the Columbine High School shootings, Give a Boy a Gun is a novel in which two students hold classmates and teachers hostage at a school dance. Each of the reconsideration committee’s nine members was disturbed by parts of the book—described as “vivid, distressing, and all too real” on a review at the top of the book jacket—although none voted to remove it.

“The library cannot and should not censor a student’s book selection,” said Pam Nelson, who oversees the district’s libraries. “If a teenager has a question he feels uncomfortable asking an adult, he has to be able to find the answers somewhere.”

“My feeling is that any kid who’s going to pick up a gun and shoot in schools is not going to pick up the idea in my book,” Todd Strasser said in the Express-Times.

Posted on January 28, 2008.