Skip to main content

Letter: Book Should Not Be on Eighth-Grade Reading List

May 16, 2014 06:46PM, Published by Steven Jack, Categories: Opinion, Education, Today




I would like to share a concern I have regarding a novel being used in 8th grade Language Arts classrooms in the Oswego School District. The book is Nothing to Lose by Alex Flinn. It is a young adult fiction novel and is on the district approved curriculum list for literature circles. This means it is allowed to be read and discussed by groups of children in 8th grade.

Two quotes for the book read:
"I walked to the bus stop, trying not to think of Kristie. I'd told her I'd be back that night, but I wouldn't. It had been okay last night. No one had gotten hurt. But I couldn't chance it again, couldn't let my dick-or even destiny-make my decisions for me. I couldn't go." (p109)

"The wheel was running regular, and Cricket pointed up at the highest car. 'Look.' At first I didn't see what he was talking about. Then I did. A couple at the top of the wheel. The girl was riding, black tank top shoved up, her head in her boyfriend's lap. 'People think they're invisible up there. Or maybe they just don't care what we see.' The car came closer until I could see exactly what they were doing. The girl was really young, maybe twelve or thirteen tops." (p130)

I am aware that some literature is used because of it's literary excellence even if it contains profanity or questionable subject matter but I don't believe that is the case with this novel. The content is grossly inappropriate for junior high readers and it has no place in the curriculum. I've spoke to various administrators in the district to voice my concern.

They, of course, were not employed in the district when this book was added. They do not know why it is on the approved list, nor do they know when it was added. I've requested that it be removed from the list and have been told it's a process that is ongoing with the evaluation of all k-12 English Language Arts curriculum and I, as one parent, cannot get it removed.

I'm turning to social media to share my concern. No one that I've spoken to at the district has provided me with a valid reason this book should be on the district approved curriculum list. I would be willing to hear someones argument for its inclusion and I would also like to ask anyone who agrees with me strongly enough to contact the administration. 

If you feel strongly that novels with this type of content should not be used for instructional purpose (district approved for lit circles), please voice your concerns to Dr. Judith Minor, the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning. Her email address is jminor@oswego308.org.

If you feel strongly that this book, Nothing to Lose by Alex Flinn, belongs on the district approved list for LA curriculum, I'd love to hear your opinion, as well. 

I have NO interest in banning this book from libraries. I just do NOT think it should be used for instructional purposes in the classroom.

Judy Meier

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Only Oswego's free newsletter to catch every headline



nothing to lose alex flinn


  • $45 Spring Cleanups

    03/30/2017
    12:00AM

    We Scoop Dog Poop! Now offering Spring Cleanups starting at just $45! Sign up for our Weekly or B...


  • DISCOVER SCOTLAND

    03/30/2017
    09:00AM

    The Oswego Senior Center is sponsoring a trip to Scotland April 17-26, 2017. Cost is $3,649 per p...


  • Matter of Balance

    03/30/2017
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    Many older adults experience concerns about falling and restrict their activities. A Matter of Ba...


  • Fabyan Villa Museum & Japanese Garden open

    03/30/2017
    01:00PM — 04:30PM

    The Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden will return to a public hours schedule starting on Su...


  • $45 Spring Cleanups

    03/31/2017
    12:00AM

    We Scoop Dog Poop! Now offering Spring Cleanups starting at just $45! Sign up for our Weekly or B...


  • Sign Language Class

    03/31/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    Do you have trouble hearing? Always saying, “What did you say?” Get support and learn a new way...


  • Broadway musical meets sci-fi horror in this dark musical comedy. What happens when Seymour Krelb...


  • $45 Spring Cleanups

    04/03/2017
    12:00AM

    We Scoop Dog Poop! Now offering Spring Cleanups starting at just $45! Sign up for our Weekly or B...


  • Matter of Balance

    04/03/2017
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    Many older adults experience concerns about falling and restrict their activities. A Matter of Ba...


  • Pivot Points

    04/03/2017
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    A pivot can refer to many things - traditionally, the point of rotation in a lever system, the c...


  • $45 Spring Cleanups

    04/04/2017
    12:00AM

    We Scoop Dog Poop! Now offering Spring Cleanups starting at just $45! Sign up for our Weekly or B...


  • CULINARY EXPO

    04/04/2017
    11:00AM — 01:00PM

    Join us at the Oswego Senior Center, 156 E. Washington Street, to explore the foods of the world ...


  • The Martin Luther High School Concert Choir and Troubadours from Greendale, Wisconsin will presen...


  • FILM: "A SMALL ACT"

    04/04/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When Hilde Back sponsored a young, rural Kenyan student, she thought nothing of it. She certainly...


  • $45 Spring Cleanups

    04/05/2017
    12:00AM

    We Scoop Dog Poop! Now offering Spring Cleanups starting at just $45! Sign up for our Weekly or B...


  • Wednesday Walking Club

    04/05/2017
    08:00AM — 09:00AM

    Wednesdays, April 5–October 25, 8–9 AM Free drop-in program for all ages Get fit the old-fashio...


  • Wednesday Walking Club

    04/05/2017
    08:00AM — 09:00AM

    Wednesdays, April 5–October 25, 8–9 AM Free drop-in program for all ages Get fit the old-fashio...


  • HISTORY AND HERITAGE (NEW!)

    04/05/2017
    10:15AM — 11:30AM

    Join Mike Adolph, a retired History teacher, for this 8-week history series. This series will exa...


  • Fabyan Villa Museum & Japanese Garden open

    04/05/2017
    01:00PM — 04:30PM

    The Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden will return to a public hours schedule starting on Su...


  • Jumpstart

    04/05/2017
    03:00PM — 05:00PM

    Know what you want and where you're going? Just need a little help in getting there? JUMPSTART ...


  • Are you interested in finding out more about the Batavia Mothers' Club? Please join us for our Ap...