The Pryor Times

January 18, 2014

No Shades of Grey in school library

Cydney Baron
Staff Reporter

PRYOR, OK — Rumors have circulated that best-selling adult novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James, is available for students to check out at Pryor Junior High School. Callers to The Times suggested the book is available at the school library and is an option on the student list of available reads for book reports.

The James book is considered to be soft pornography. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism. “Fifty Shades of Grey” has topped best-seller lists around the world, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

“We do not have “Fifty Shades of Grey” in our library,” said Connie Melton, PJHS librarian. “We have another book with some of the same words in the title, though.”

Melton is referring to the 2014 Sequoyah award-nominated novel “Between Shades of Gray” by Ruta Sepetys.

“This book is in our Sequoyah Nomination section of the library and is for freshman only,” said Melton.

Sepetys’ novel is described as a historical novel and is based on the author’s heritage.

Set in 1941, Sepetys’ novel is about “fifteen-year-old Lina. Her mother, and brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers by burying her story in a jar on Lithuanian soil,” according to an online synopsis.

The Washington Post’s review praises the novel saying, “Her prose is restrained and powerful, as unadorned as the landscape in which her characters struggle to survive. Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both.”

“The titles are similar but the books are nothing alike,” said Melton.

“Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever,” an online review says of James’ books.

Pryor Public School Superintendent Don Raleigh said library books are chosen according to the board of education’s material selection policy as well as the Library Bill of Rights.

The material selection policy begins by stating, “Materials for the media center shall be selected by the librarian with the cooperation of the faculty, the administration, and in some instances the students. The primary objective in the selection of instructional materials is to implement, enrich, and support the educational program of the school.”

It continues by saying book selection is assisted by “reading, examination, and checking of reputable, unbiased, professionally prepared selection aids.

“Books or materials of an obscene nature shall not be recommended,” the policy states.

The PJHS Library’s mission statement is, “To create an integrated library program that not only empowers students and staff to become active, independent, ethical, and effective lifelong users of ideas and information.”

According to Melton, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which is intended for mature readers, does not fit into that mission.

While this rumor is unfounded, Raleigh does encourage parents to remain actively interested in what their student is reading.

“We of course encourage any patron who has a concern like this to bring it to our attention, either at the building level or through me,” Raleigh said.