Signal Mountain teacher removes two books with African American perspective from reading list

Books removed from reading list at Signal Mountain Middle-High School.

Two books that highlight police violence and racial discrimination were removed from a required reading list for Signal Mountain Middle-High School students after parents raised concerns, officials say.

On Friday, the school's seventh-grade literature teacher emailed parents telling them to not purchase "All American Boys" and "Monster" — both of which have African American males as protagonists. The literature was previously part of the school's Finding Perspective book club list.

"In an effort to maintain our safe classroom community, I will be removing 'All American Boys' and 'Monster' from the book club list," the teacher said in the email. "If you have already purchased either book, I apologize for the hassle this has caused you. Both books contain mature content that not every student will be comfortable reading."

The email went on to suggest that books with such content might be suitable for students elsewhere in Hamilton County, but not in Signal Mountain.

"Generally, Hamilton County gives us texts that are blanket texts for all students in our schools. While the reading level of the book is accessible to seventh-grade students, the content in the books may be inappropriate for some of our students," the email said. "While a shock to us, the books may be relatable and important to other students in our county."

The teacher went on to say, "I want to keep the environment in our classroom safe and enjoyable for all students. Please have your student choose one of the other books from the list, or they can suggest a good book that is written from the perspectives of multiple characters. Again, I apologize and will be closely monitoring all books given to us by Hamilton County from here on out."

She further cautioned, "If you are still interested in having your child read either book, I would HIGHLY suggest you read reviews on goodreads.com and commonsensemedia.com beforehand."

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