Glendale school board may block 'In Cold Blood'
The landmark 1966 literary nonfiction book "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote may not make it onto a high school honors reading list in Glendale after obections were raised by a committee made up of school principals. The school board must approve the book before it can be taught; "I think 'chilling' is far too benign a word to use," school board member Mary Boger said of it.
In the spring, Glendale High School English teacher Holly Ciotti submitted a request to add “In Cold Blood” to a list of books approved by the district for use in her 11th-grade Advanced Placement language class, considering the move merely a formality, the Glendale News Press reports.
[W]hile the book received unanimous support from the district’s English Curriculum Study Committee, which is composed of high school teachers, it hit a snag with the Secondary Education Council. Its membership — made up of high school principals — expressed reservations, as did members of the PTA.
“I was totally surprised by this opposition, really surprised,” Ciotti said.
Like all books, “In Cold Blood” must be approved by the school board before it can be taught by a teacher in the district. At a meeting on Sept. 13, school board members split two and two on the issue, with Vice President Christine Walters reserving judgment until she read the work.
School board president Joylene Wagner favors the book's inclusion. "I wholeheartedly support the adoption of this book," she said.
"In Cold Blood" depicts the murder of the Clutter family in Kansas by two ex-cons who mistakenly believed them to be in possession of a large amount of money. It follows the effect of the murders on the small town, law enforcement, and the killers who were found, convicted and sentenced to death. Although similar stories can be seen regularly on television shows like "Law and Order," at the time, the closeup look at the brutal murders was considered shocking. And by some, it still is: Although the book regularly appears on school reading lists, it is 53rd on the American Library Assn.'s list of classic books that have been challenged or banned.
The decision about whether or not Glendale AP students will be able to read "In Cold Blood" is expected to take place in October.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: (left) An advanced placement language class taught by Glendale High School teacher Holly Ciotti discusses Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." Credit: Raul Roa / Times Community News. (right) Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood."