Children’s book causes controversy among parents and schools

Jackson County, Ore.- A grade school level reading book is causing controversy across the state.

The book is a part of next school year’s “Oregon’s Battle of Books” program.

The program is meant to inspire kids to read while helping their reading comprehension levels.

“There is a list of 16 books and each book has to be read and then there are questions that are asked in the battle of the books,” Talent Elementary School Principal Curt Shenk said.

Talent Elementary School participated in the program this school year.

“It was a great experience with it, it was wonderful,” Shenk said. “The kids really got into it.”

But they’re having second thoughts about rejoining this fall that’s because one book is creating some controversy among teachers and parents.

The book, George is a coming of age story about a fourth-grader who eventually learns to become herself and comes out as a transgender girl.

President of Southern Oregon Pride, Gina DuQuenne thinks the book, which is meant for third to fifth graders, is a great idea.

“When I heard about this book I’m very excited about it. I think there should be more books like it,” she said.

Gina says the earlier kids are exposed to our differences, the more likely they’re able to accept one another at a young age.

“I think that age group is spot on and I believe that we should introduce who we are to our children as early as possible,” said DuQuenne.

Although one school in Hermiston has already pulled out of the program, OBOB says George will remain on the list.

In a statement, the organization says “It went through the entire title selection process, including the time for public feedback, met the board’s criteria and was chosen by the title selection committee. OBOB is a voluntary program and no child is required to read every title.”

In the valley individual schools sign up to be part of Oregon’s Battle of the Books, not the district.

So far, we aren’t aware of any schools in the area that have decided to withdraw from next year’s program.

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