In TX, One Book, One County, One Controversy
— reported by the Library Journal
Friendswood, TX, a small town outside Galveston, has joined in the Galveston County Reads collective plan to read Mark Haddon’s novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. But the Friendswood mayor isn’t completely happy. On January 23, Mayor Kim Brizendine’s office issued a proclamation at the request of the Friendswood Library director Mary Booker Perroni, encouraging “all citizens, teens to seniors” to read this book. But several community members criticized the profanity in the book, and even the book’s attitudes toward religion. So Brizendine issued a new statement: “[I]t is not my intention to endorse this readership [??] for our younger readers, and it is my belief that this discretion should be left to the parents of our youth. I am personally concerned over some of the substance in this book, and I regret endorsing this text to younger teens. After this proclamation was issued, the Director of the Friendswood Library Services informed me that it was never her intent to recommend this book for younger teens as well.”
One city council member told the Galveston County Daily News that the city “shouldn’t be using taxpayers’ dollars promoting and purchasing a book the community wouldn’t approve of.” However, Perroni told LJ that that the county reading program was funded by private donations. As of the mayor’s statements, most of the 15-plus copies of the book in the Friendswood collection were in the hands of city council members. One writer to the newspaper, the president of the Friends group at the nearby Helen Hall Library, denounced the book’s “very offensive language.” Sandra Sullivan, a member of the Galveston County Reads Project, commented, “Although my use of profanity has not increased since reading the book, my awareness of the labels I use to describe people different from me, and my humanity toward those people, has increased.”
Wow! Who decides what the community would or would not approve of?