A coming-of-age book called “Beartown” about a Swedish hockey team has many parents up in arms, after it was assigned to a McMichael High School Honors English class.
The 2017 novel by Fredrik Backman explores life and crime in small, ice hockey-loving community, but some in Rockingham County believe the explicit language and mature themes are too much for high school sophomores.
Many people came out to the Rockingham County School Board meeting Monday night, expressing their outrage with the chosen book.
“It’s horrendous. It uses a lot of words you won’t be able to put on your newscast,” said Don Powell with Lawsonville Road Baptist Church. “It’s my feeling and other people’s feeling that it’s inappropriate for use in a classroom.”
The school board confirmed the book was assigned to the 10th grade English honors students at McMichael High. Leaders said they are concerned about selecting the appropriate literature for student – which can be a challenge given subject matter and offensive language. The district considers age and maturity when selecting books.
Board members said that the new English teacher was not aware of the rules in assigning books to class. Normally, protocol involves bringing the selection to the principal of the school and a media review committee to discuss the content of the book, and assess the book’s educational value. However, that was not done in this case.
Rockingham County Schools apologized to the parents and children affect by this, stating, in retrospect, the system could have avoided this if “Beartown” went through the proper channels.
School board member Brent Huss says the board was made aware of the selection in the last week of September – brought to leaders’ attention by a grandparent who went through the book – noticing profanity in several paragraphs.