Editor’s note: For context, please see related story, “Sparta school officials deny teacher suspension over book,” at spartaindependent.com.
To the Editor:
I recently read that the book “Ghost Boys” by Jewell Parker Rhodes was suspended from the reading list in Sparta Public Schools. Apparently, someone complained about it. I just had to read this book to see what was objectionable about our students reading it.
Suspending “Ghost Boys” from the reading list is like suspending “The Diary of Anne Frank.” In “Ghost Boys,” Black 12-year-old seventh-grader Jerome likes school in lower income working class Chicago, where he tries to dodge bullies. One day, while playing outside with a toy gun, he is fatally shot in the back by a white policeman, who said he was in fear for his life.
The dead boy tells what happens after he died. He reminisces about his life before. He makes “friends” with Emmett Till, another ghost boy. He also finds himself in an unlikely alliance with someone living, but you’ll have to read the book to find out who. There is redemption in this story, which I read in one afternoon.
This book is not about cop bashing, as some have asserted. It does not make white people feel guilty about being white. It does not politicize or preach. It will not traumatize white middle schoolers. My heart embraced Jerome, just like it embraced Anne Frank when I read her story as a teenager. Sparta, put this book back on the reading list.