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School panel keeps Bradbury short story on reading list

Parent's complaint prompted a review of 'The Veldt'

A Beaverton School District review committee has recommended that science fiction giant Ray Bradbury be kept on the district's reading list.

The committee said Wednesday evening that Bradbury's short story 'The Veldt,' should continue to be read in school. The story prompted complaints from a middle school parent who thought its language and plot were inappropriate for students.

The seven-member committee's recommendation on 'The Veldt,' which is part of Bradbury's 'The Illustrated Man' anthology, will be forwarded to a district administrator for a final decision.

'The Veldt,' which runs about 20 pages, was published by Bradbury in 1951 as the first in the collection of 18 science fiction stories.

The plot involves the use of an 'artificial nursery,' a place where children's parents keep them happy.

When the children use the nursery to create an African environment of predators, the parents talk about taking the landscape away.

In turn, the children retaliate by locking their parents inside the nursery where they are killed by lions.

Kristi Roberts, who challenged the work, said her daughter was in a sixth-grade humanities class at Stoller Middle School last year when 'The Veldt' was used as part of the curriculum.

Roberts said she initially objected to swear words used in the story. The word 'damn' is used in several places throughout, and Roberts felt it inappropriate to have the teacher read aloud portions of the story containing the word.

But, Roberts said, 'as I read it, there were so many other concerns.'

Those included the children plotting murders of their parents and later witnessing it with 'big smiles on their faces.'

'This isn't a good way of problem-solving,' said Roberts.

Roberts said her daughter, now in the seventh grade, attended class during the first week that 'The Veldt' was read and talked about, but was excused for the second week.

Roberts is concerned that the story offers no consequences for the children's actions. It also sends the wrong message to young people, she said.

'I do think it can influence them and give them ideas on how to do this,' she said.

Alexander Perrins, a district regional administrator, said the review committee's decision would go to Sarah Boly, district superintendent teaching and learning, who is expected to make a decision in the next few weeks.

Perrins said several pieces of literature are challenged each year but not always with the intent of removal.