Everette Bibb was in for a big surprise last week when a fellow parent called to tell him the book Push could be found in their children's school library.
"If this book gets into my daughter ' s hands, I'll be furious," Bibb says.
His daughter, who is 14 and in 8th grade at Forestbrook Middle School, is one of hundreds of students he says was told about Push through an extracurricular reading list.
The book is a 1996 novel about Precious Jones, an illiterate 16-year-old, who grows up in poverty. Precious is raped by her father, battered by her mother, and dismissed by social workers as a Harlem impoverished youth. The story follows Precious, pregnant with a second child by her father, through her journey of learning how to read and be on her own. The novel was made into a critically acclaimed movie, Precious, in 2009, winning Academy Award and Sundance Film Festival praise.
It contains profane language on almost every page, including the n-word and f-word. There are also graphic depictions of rape and abuse scenes.
Horry County School Board Vice Chairman Joe Defeo says the district pulled the books ten days ago. "The books were purchased as a block of books from what we thought to be a reputable vendor. Unfortunately , they have a different view than we do of what's decent."
Bibb, along with about 30 people including many members of the Grand Strand Tea Party,petitioned the Horry County Board of Education at their meeting Monday night, requesting the book be pulled from all schools district-wide.
"It's basically smut," Bibb says. "The teachers have to do what they're told. Are there no check and balances between the classroom and the state that look over these books and see?"
School Board Chairman Will Garland said he was not aware of the issue at all prior to the meeting. "I have received no calls or emails," he said.
Bibb says he wasn't satisfied with the board meeting. He says he wants others to be held responsible for the fact the book even got into the schools in the first place.
Teal Britton, public information officer with Horry County Schools, says parents can follow a process to challenge books on the approved middle school reading list, which is 63 items long. The first step, she says, is appealing to the school's principal, then the district.
She adds the novel Push will remain on the bookshelves in three high school media centers.
"I think it's about creating opportunities , but there should be balance , in we have a responsibility to protect children from some of the language and themes they aren't mature enough to process," she says.