CMS parent says required novel contains graphic sexual conduct

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Parents said a novel with graphic and disturbing sexual content is required reading for ninth-graders enrolled in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

"There's rape. There's assault. There's drunk(en) driving. It's just not appropriate in this age group," mother Mary Jo Little said.

Little didn't know CMS was requiring her daughter to read the book for class until she discovered it in the kitchen of her home.

Her daughter is a student at South Mecklenburg High School, where “The Glass Castle” is required reading.

The memoir by Jeanette Walls is one of the best-selling books in the entire country, but it contains some very dark situations that are hard to digest at any age.

"When my child went to sexual education class, I had to sign a permission slip and that doesn't hold a candle to what they discussed in (the book,)" Little said.

The website The Literate Mother, which rates books on child friendliness, said the book has an excessive and disturbing amount of language, violence, sexual content and adult themes.

"I went to the school and met with the teacher and the guidance counselor and I said, ‘Well, who approved these books? Who's reading them?'” Little said.

They told Little they didn’t know.

Little said the school told her it could ban the book but only if the district decided to take action. She's going to talk to the board at its next meeting in February.

She hopes to convince the board members to pull the book out of school by handing them a copy and asking them to read portions of it out loud.

While the memoir may be an accurate representation of a hard life, Little thinks CMS needs to notify parents before they introduce adult material to teens who are still growing up themselves.

"This should've come home with a warning letter to make us aware. I'm not trying to police which books the school system makes you read, but inform the parents so we can help them process this," she said.

The school board's representative for District 5 told Little she didn't know whether the school or the district is responsible for notifying parents about required reading assignments.

Channel 9 is asking CMS why parents weren't notified and who decides what's approved on the reading list.