Rockford Public Schools notified its elementary parents that a book that will be available at its upcoming Scholastic Book Fair includes a gay character, according to Superintendent Michael Shibler.
“Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot” is the 12th book in the popular children’s book series by author and illustrator Dav Pilkey.
“Our philosophy is to be as transparent as we possibly can when dealing with parents and their children,” said Shibler, about the Tuesday, Nov. 10 letter, regarding next week’s book fairs at the elementary schools.
“It was brought to my attention yesterday by an administrator coordinating the book fair. I try to be consistent and wanted parents to know.”
Shibler told parents that every year during parent-teacher conferences, each elementary school hosts a book fair through Scholastic. He said this fall a representative from Scholastic met with library personnel from various schools notifying them that the “Captain Underpants” book could be viewed as controversial by some readers.
“Within the plot of this story, there is a very brief reference to one of the featured characters traveling 20 years into the future to find he is married to another man,” according to the letter.
Shibler included the statement from the scholastic representative in his letter:
“Our goal is to encourage all children to learn to love to read in part by making available a wide array of titles for children to choose from. Children all across the country live in families with varied family structures and our authors are moved to portray these families in their books. While the author gives us a glimpse of Harold’s future and his partner, this is not the focus of the story. Rather it is about Harold as he is in school at the present. Of course, at Scholastic we recognize that not every book is for every young person. Therefore, we encourage families and teachers to take an active interest in their children’s reading choices so that a child will not select a book that is contrary to her or his family or community values.”
Scholastic could not be reached for comment.