An eleven-year-old student in Raymond, Maine, discovered a book called ‘Nick and Charlie’ on a stand in his middle school library. The content in the book made him feel uncomfortable, so he checked out the book to show his dad.
The librarian also offered the student books that were similar and asked if he would be interested in reading the graphic novel version.
The student, Knox Zajac, brought this to the attention of the RSU-14 School Board at a meeting, where he read aloud a passage that was deemed as “pornographic.”
The Contents of The Book
The book follows the love story of Nick and Charlie, who are head over heels for each other and do all the romantic things any couple does together. In this story, two teens steal wine from their parents and begin to s**ually experiment with one another.
According to the synopsis:
NICK: “Things me and Charlie Spring do together include: Watch films. Sit in the same room on different laptops. Text each other from different rooms. Make out. Make food. Make drinks. Get drunk. Talk. Argue. Laugh. Maybe we’re kind of boring. But that’s fine with us.”
The footage, which was emblazoned with the words ’11-Year-Old SILENCES School Board As He Reads From DISTURBING Book Found In School Library,’ has been viewed 2.5 million times and has over 20,000 comments.
“Doesn’t Need To Be At Our Schools”
Knox’s father also spoke in the video, telling the others at the board meeting that these kinds of books openly available to check out in the schools don’t need to be in middle school libraries.
The father said that the parents know what’s best for their children, “not the schools,” and that he is “more than happy” to focus his time and effort on the security of the children in the school, describing himself as a “thorn in their sides.”
Why The Student Spoke Out About The Controversial Book
In this video, Zajac tells us the reason for speaking out. On skimming the book, the boy felt “so uncomfortable” by its contents, so he wanted to make sure that people knew about it and potentially get it removed from schools.
Appropriate for Public Schools?
The case has sparked much debate on social media, with users responding to the video and sharing their support for the father and son.
One user received more than 8,600 likes for their comment. “What have we come to as a country when an eleven-year-old has to stand up and ask for appropriate books?”
“Having his son read this was absolutely needed so they can actually hear what kids are reading in their library,” said another with 7,600 likes.
“The schools are actively trying to desensitize kids to the idea of s**, and it is disgusting,” one person said with more than 2,900 likes.
“The fact that an 11-year-old had access to such pornography and was asked if he wanted a graphic (picture) version is beyond disturbing and disgusting,” one person who received 3,000 likes said. “That librarian should be fired and have their certifications stripped away. Hearing that kid’s story brought me to tears.
What Do Readers of The Book Think?
The book has been highly praised by its readers, receiving 4.18 out of 5 stars and over 100 thousand ratings on Goodreads. People shared what they enjoyed about the book, and many have been fans since the publication of “Heartstopper” in 2019, which inspired the spinoff “Nick and Charlie”.
Snippets of reviews reveal people’s true thoughts. Several comments mentioned the sex scene: “While on the one hand, I’m all for sex positivity, I’d have preferred it if there were no post-sex images of shirtless Nick & Charlie cuddling in bed for all the world to swoon over.”
One reviewer couldn’t get enough of the book, before mentioning, “…They were all sex, drugs and drama.”
Another person commented. “…Then the scene where they have sex? I felt like my eyeballs should not have been reading that. It’s not explicit, mind you, but it’s there.”
This article 11-Year-Old Student Speaks Out About Controversial Novel in School Library was syndicated and produced by TPR Teaching. The article does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of TPR Teaching.
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.