11-Year-Old “Uncomfortable” With Controversial Literature In His Middle School Library

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.”

Video From BlazeTV

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.

READ MORE: Texas Students Refuse Pledge Of Allegiance After Being Taught Its Origins—And Teacher Accused Of Brainwashing Them

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.


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.

About the author
Caitriona Maria
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.
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Lacey Stinson
Lacey Stinson
9 months ago

The book is clearly not appropriate for a middle school, even though middle school students are not too young to be given accurate and complete sex education owing to the fact that most of them are biologically capable of being involved in an unplanned pregnancy.

Whether it’s appropriate for a high school library depends on how the rest of the book plays out. Is a point being made about the age of the characters? Does the book go on to describe potential consequences of reckless sexual behavior, or that contraception is not 100% effective? Does the book provide dialog that asks all the questions teenagers *need* to be asking about their rapidly developing sexual feelings and growing social pressures to have sex?

It’s not necessarily the librarian or school administrator’s fault that the book was in the library. It may not be possible for a limited staff to read the entirety of every book that is or may be acquired. There is need for a reliable vetting process or agency that reads the entirety of every book to highlight sensitive issues that are discussed or portrayed. I don’t know if there is such a thing. AI chatbots may not be sophisticated enough yet to be able to do that.

Finally, the word “graphic,” as it pertains to a book, means the book includes illustrations, cartoons or drawings either in place of, or in addition to text. Because it was not stated what the illustrations depicted, the term “graphic” is irrelevant to the case.

Philip Weiss
Philip Weiss
8 months ago

Why are the words “SEXUALLY” and “SEX” blocked in this article online? Are the citizens who read it being judged as incapable of dealing with such dangerous words?

Dewey Desimal
Dewey Desimal
8 months ago

The recent case of a ten year old girl, who was raped and legally blocked from getting a needed abortion highlights the problems our kids are having getting enough real information about their sexuality…but whether we agree with these activist parents or the administration…I think it’s more than time we start better listening to the kids. This young man spoke up for himself, and that’s very good, but would he be willing to support other students’ views, if they felt he was being excessively? Ultimately every student needs most to learn to think for her or himself.

8 months ago

i read the graphic novel version of this book and the term “pornographic” is no way to describe it, the book only implied that they have sex, and the graphic novel version of the book shows no pornographic pictures, the book is about an wholesome gay highschool relationship, it is meant to be read as a book whose message is to lgbtqia+ teens, and its not even “bad”, the word sex is used one or two times in the book, no pornographic imagery or pornographic writing, maybe some kids are uncomfortable with it, but sex should be taught as a normal, natural thing, not as a hush hush topic, safe sex is also implied in the book, i dont really see a problem

8 months ago

If this kind of thing isn’t appropriate for middle schoolers, then ALL books with ANY depictions or references to sex should be pulled from school libraries. Anything Shakespeare, books like Of Mice and Men, and many of the classics should be pulled because they’re inappropriate for children that age. YA novels like “House of the Scorpion” (about a drug lord) and The House of Night Series should be pulled because of “graphic” depictions of sex, drugs, and violence. Or is the issue actually that it’s two BOYS experimenting with sex?

Denise Saupe
Denise Saupe
8 months ago

Kudos to a father taking a passionate stand for his child’s legitimate concern that this book is inappropriate for his age group. Adults have forgotten what it is like to be 11 years, still with both feet in childhood. That child would have felt the same discomfort if the story were about a girl and boy. Society does not need to shove this stuff down a child’s throat, which is what was being done in that middle school library by displaying it on a stand. How stupid can anyone be? This book sounds like it was written by a pedophile writing porn for kids and probably getting off while writing it. Any librarian who thinks this is literature worthy of display in a middle school library should rethink their motives for doing so. The American obsession over sexuality is out of control. There is more to life than what lies or doesn’t lie between our legs.

6 months ago

I do not approve of book banning. People have the option, to not read a book that makes them uncomfortable. I understand some limits should be placed, on certain book topics, in a middle school library but some people are going overboard.