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Parent files complaint about book assigned as student reading

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A book about banning books is under fire. A Montgomery County family wants the classic novel "Fahrenheit 451" pulled from the high school reading list. But some students are working to show support for the book.

Harry Potter books have been the basis of complaints in recent years. But now a book that's been on literary lists for years is suddenly being thrust into a debate over what's appropriate reading material for students at one Conroe school.

"Fahrenheit 451" was first published 53 years ago. It's said to be named for the temperature at which paper burns. In this world no free thought was allowed and books were destroyed by fire.

Two weeks ago at Caney Creek High School, a tenth grade English class was given "Fahrenheit 451" as a reading assignment. But Diana Verm stopped after a few pages. She said she was offended by "the cussing in it and the burning of the Bible."

Diana complained to her father. She was given an alternate reading assignment, but her dad is pushing the issue. It is ironic in the truest sense that a fictional book on book banning is now the target of a request to remove it from school curriculum.

"With God's name in vain being in there, that's the number one reason," said Diana's father Alton Verm. "There's no reason for it being read."

The school has appointed a committee to review Verm's objections. But students are now circulating a petition in support of the book. They plan to wear t-shirts on Friday voicing their opinions.

"This was probably one of the greatest eye openers that we've had in our school curriculum," said student rally organizer Darrell Lee. "A lot of the people who did sign said that of all the books they had to read, this was the one they enjoyed. It really makes you think about the situation."

Coincidentally, this book was assigned during National Banned Book Week.

In the complaint filed against the school by Alton Verm, he listed each objected item line by line, complete with individual page numbers. Besides bad language and violence, Verm lists "downgrading Christians" and "talking about our firemen" as reasons the book should be banned. The school committee is expected to meet about the book.
(Copyright © 2006, KTRK-TV)

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