At a recent Battle Ground School Board meeting several mothers asked the Board to look into the use of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” for a class their children were taking at Prairie High School. Their expressed concerns related to the graphic nature of the book and questioned whether it was appropriate for 15 year olds.
We contacted the Battle Ground School District and asked for background information about the course and here’s what we received:
The course is a Pre-AP (Advanced Placement) Sophomore English class at Prairie High school. It is a “choice” class for students who are preparing for college level work. Students are usually sophomores taking the class. There are no requirements for the course although a higher reading level and desire to take future Advanced Placement courses is recommended. The book was selected by the teachers as summer reading for students who are taking the class. Students who chose NOT to read the book were given a list of other options to read. The book comes from a list of recommended books to read from the College Board which oversees Advanced Placement courses. This book has also been used by the teachers in past years-it came out in 2006 and was a top recommendation by the National Librarian Association.
What is the book about? We turned to “Goodreads”: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/128029.A_Thousand_Splendid_Suns
By all accounts those who love the book find it to be “real” and it brings the plight of Afghan women to the world. Those who express concern note the extreme violence and physical and emotional aspects of the women. There are adults who find the brutality and descriptions to be very uncomfortable.
So, the question is whether 15 year olds are an appropriate audience. Some will say yes and some will say no. Apparently the book has been used since it was released by teachers across the United States. We bring you this story so you are aware (if you were not already) that books of this type are used in AP style classes (and perhaps others). If this concerns you we suggest you check with your school district for a list of books they use so you are aware.