Hardin Valley Academy parent wants book taken off reading list

Hardin Valley Academy parent wants "Robopocalypse" taken off reading list

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"Robopocalypse" was awarded the Alex Award by the Young Adult Library Services Association in 2011. "Robopocalypse" was awarded the Alex Award by the Young Adult Library Services Association in 2011.
"I would like to see it taken off the reading list," Sam Lee said. "I would like to see it taken off the reading list," Sam Lee said.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knox County parent is concerned about a book students at Hardin Valley Academy are required to read this year.

The book is national bestseller "Robopocalypse," by Daniel H. Wilson.

Sam Lee is trying to get it removed from the required reading list because of the book's language.

Lee's son will be a freshman at Hardin Valley Academy this year. He says his wife was the first to notice the content of the book.

"She decided to read some of it so she could ask him questions and make sure he knew what he was reading," said Lee. "When she started reading we were shocked. We got one chapter in, there was all kind of inappropriate language for minors."

Lee says he is furious his son was required this type of book.

"This should had been brought to our knowledge before assigned and forced on our kids," said Lee, "That's my problem."

Lee personally started counting all the f-words in "Robopocalypse." By the time he got half-way through the book he had already counted 15.

"We always consider the appropriateness of the theme, the content, the maturity of the audience depending on the grade level," said Knox County Schools Acting Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Elizabeth Alves.

Alves says she was unaware the book had been chosen by teachers at Hardin Valley Academy. She says they are now looking into the process of how the book was selected.

Lee contacted school officials at Hardin Valley Academy. Debbie Sayers, a chemistry teacher and STEM academy dean, responded in an e-mail, saying, "I have read the book and am aware of the inappropriate language. 'Robopocalypse' was one of several books proposed by teachers in the STEM Academy."

Sayers said three choices were given to students and "they overwhelmingly picked 'Robopocalypse.'"

"In our selection of the book choices for students, we discussed adult-level language, and decided that most (not all) students of this age group are exposed to profanity through much more graphic means than the written text ," Sayers added.

Lee says he feels students should not have any say on what books they read and hopes more parents will be aware of "Robopocalypse."

"I would like to see it taken off the reading list," said Lee. "I don't know if that will happen, depends on if parents care."

He is planning to make an official complaint with the school system.

"Robopocalypse" author Daniel H. Wilson responded to Lee's complaint. He told 6 News via email, "I'm sorry to hear that "Robopocalypse" has upset any parents. The novel is a thriller set in a post-apocalyptic world in which the characters are fighting to survive and they do use strong, realistic language. The novel does not contain drug use or sexual content, and the story revolves around a diverse group of people who emerge from a global catastrophe as heroes of humanity."

"Robopocalypse" has been popular with young adults, Wilson said. It was awarded the Alex Award by the Young Adult Library Services Association in 2011.

"I recently spoke to nearly two hundred student readers at Madison High School here in Portland, Oregon, and they were all very excited about the novel (and the upcoming movie adaptation from DreamWorks)," Wilson said.

He added that parents should decide what is best for their children.

"I am glad to say that 'Robopocalypse' has been able to help encourage high school students to read," he said.

Lee says school officials have given his son an opportunity to read an alternative book.

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