Hardin Valley Academy Parent Fights Reading List, ‘Robopocalypse’: Says Students Should Not Have Any Say

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson is a national bestseller that won the Alex Award by the Young Adult Library Services Association in 2011. However, a Hardin Valley Academy in Knox County wants the book removed from the school’s required reading list because of the book’s language.

Sam Lee, the parent who is trying to get Robopocalypse removed from the reading list, says that he became aware of the book when his wife began reading it so that she could quiz their son, a freshman at the school, on the content.

“She decided to read some of it so she could ask him questions and make sure he knew what he was reading. When she started reading we were shocked. We got one chapter in, there was all kind of inappropriate language for minors.”

Upon learning about the language used in Robopocalypse, Lee states that he was furious. He says that he counted 15 uses of the f-word in just the first half of the book.

“This should had been brought to our knowledge before assigned and forced on our kids,” said Lee, “That’s my problem.”

Responding to Lee’s request to have Robopocalypse removed from the school’s reading list, Knox County Schools Acting Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Elizabeth Alves stated:

“We always consider the appropriateness of the theme, the content, the maturity of the audience depending on the grade level.”

Debbie Sayers, a chemistry teacher and STEM academy dean, also responded to Lee’s request in an email. Sayers explained:

“I have read the book and am aware of the inappropriate language. Robopocalypse was one of several books proposed by teachers in the STEM Academy.”

“In our selection of the book choices for students, we discussed adult-level language, and decided that most (not all) students of this age group are exposed to profanity through much more graphic means than the written text.”

Sayers also added that the students were given three choices of books to read and that “they overwhelmingly picked Robopocalypse.”

In a move that might shock some parents, Lee responded that he feels students should not have any say on what books they read.

“I would like to see it taken off the reading list,” Lee concluded.

Upon hearing that some parents were upset about his book, author Daniel H. Wilson responded to the criticism to 6 News via an email:

“I’m sorry to hear that “Robopocalypse” has upset any parents. The novel is a thriller set in a post-apocalyptic world in which the characters are fighting to survive and they do use strong, realistic language. The novel does not contain drug use or sexual content, and the story revolves around a diverse group of people who emerge from a global catastrophe as heroes of humanity.”

Do you think that students should not have any say on which books they read?