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Gun on Cover of YA Book Sparks Outrage - Even Though Book is About Anti-Violence

Well, it looks like book censorship is one thing we didn’t manage to leave in 2015. This time, however, it’s not the content that’s got parents up in arms, but the front cover: the image of a gun on When I Was The Greatest, by Jason Reynolds, which was recommended for 7th and 8th graders in the New York City Reads 365 pamphlet, has been deemed inappropriate by outraged parents. Which is pretty ironic, really, considering it’s actually an anti-violence book. It even won the Coretta Scott King award, which is given annually to outstanding African American authors whose children’s or YA books encompass universal human values. What can there be to complain about?

Well, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the sheer numbers of conversations about banning books last year, it’s that parents can complain about anything. Sex between a man and a woman, love between a man and a man... you name it, someone’s not happy about it.

Of course, as parents, it is their right to oversee what their child is reading — but in this case, I can’t help but wish they would give the book a bit more of a chance. (“Don’t judge a book by its…” — you know how the saying goes.) And so does the author himself, Jason Reynolds, who posted a screenshot of the news coverage of the complaint, along with a caption urging parents to “OPEN THE BOOK. READ IT.”


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