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Michigan Parent Challenges The Diary of a Young Girl

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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank seems fairly established in the canon of young adult nonfiction. Most of us have read it, mostly before graduating from high school. It was even turned into an interactive iPad app earlier this year. First edited for publication by Otto Frank, Anne's father, the diary was republished in a Definitive Edition (Doubleday, 1995) that restored numerous passages redacted from the original document.

According to School Library Journal, a parent in the Northville, Mich., public school district has brought a challenge against the district's use of the Definitive Edition in classrooms. She argues that several of the restored passages are too sexually explicit for middle school readers, though others see these parts of the text as key elements of Frank's coming-of-age story. Marta Murvosh of SLJ interviewed the parent, Gail Horalek, and offers more background on the challenge.

Murvosh also spoke with several librarians, including Barbara M. Jones of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, who reflected on the ethical and professional pressure that parent challenges bring to bear upon school librarians. As we've seen in numerous recent instances of banned or challenged books, processes for approving and revising reading lists vary from district to district, and even resolved challenges can be re-opened or even reversed when new voices enter the conversation. It can be hard to predict when broad community support will and won't sway the outcome of a book challenge.

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