Community Post: Chicago Public Schools Pull “Persepolis” From Shelves
1. Last week, Chicago Public Schools made the decision to take the graphic novel “Persepolis” off the reading list for seventh grade students.
“Due to the powerful images of torture in the book,” Persepolis was deemed appropriate for junior and senior students in High School, but not younger students.
2. The book tells the story of author Marjane Satrapi’s experience growing up in Iran around the time of the Islamic revolution.
3. “It was brought to our attention that it contains graphic language and images that are not appropriate for general use,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in a statement about the book.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in October.
4. An email sent by a school principal indicated that the book should be removed from libraries.
But according to CPS, that was a mistake. “The message got lost in translation, but the bottom line is, we never sent out a directive to ban the book,” spokeswoman Becky Carroll told the Chicago Tribune. “We want to make sure there’s an appropriate way to teach it to students given the graphic nature of the novel.”
5. In statements, author Marjane Satrapi and her publisher Knopf condemned the removal of the book.
“It’s shameful. I cannot believe something like this can happen in the United States of America,” Satrapi told the Chicago Tribune. Knopf Doubleday said, “The fact that Chicago is trying to limit this book’s use in classrooms and curriculums, suggesting teachers need guidance before they can discuss it, smacks of censorship.”
6. The National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and the Freedom to Read Foundation all condemned the choice.
7. Students and parents protested the decision last week.
High school junior Terrence Browne told DNAinfo Chicago that he, “would actually like to read the book after this situation.”
8. “These are not photos of torture,” said Satrapi.
“It’s a drawing and it’s one frame. I don’t think American kids of seventh grade have not seen any signs of violence. Seventh graders have brains and they see all kinds of things on cinema and the Internet. It’s a black and white drawing and I’m not showing something extremely horrible. That’s a false argument. They have to give a better explanation,” she told the Chicago Tribune.
9. As of Monday, multiple bookstores in Chicago had sold out of the book.
10. In 2008, the film version of “Persepolis” received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.
11. Satrapi won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival in 2007 for the movie.
12. “Persepolis” joins a list of numerous acclaimed books that haven’t suffered in sales because of potential bannings.
The Boy Who Lived being the best recent example.