A teen book with mature content could soon be removed from bookshelves in school libraries across the state.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne sent letters to all superintendents and principals Tuesday warning them of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky.
The book graphically describes a teen date rape in one chapter.
"In general, I’m against censorship, but even I was profoundly shocked by this," Horne said. "I don’t think even grown-ups should read this."
Horne said he hopes schools will remove all copies and review procedures used to select books.
The book was brought to his attention about a month ago when an Apache Junction grandmother wrote him, saying her sixth-grade granddaughter was reading it for points in an accelerated reading program at Desert Shadows Middle School.
The program, used across the state, provides a list of books at different grade levels. Once a student finishes a book, the program’s software quizzes students to assess their reading comprehension level before they can move to the next level. The book is positioned at a fourth-grade reading level.
The grandmother specifically addressed the date rape scene, where a teen boy forces a girl to perform oral sex, Horne said. The description makes up about one paragraph of the chapter.
Middle school officials immediately removed the book when contacted about the content four weeks ago, said Apache Junction Unified School District spokeswoman, Betty Swanson.
Mesa Unified School District Superintendent Debra Duvall, declined comment Tuesday night because she had not seen Horne’s letter.
The book, printed in 1999 by MTV Books, has been banned in other school districts in states such as Wisconsin and Massachusetts for its graphic depictions of sex, drugs, suicide and violence.