To the editor:
I find a bit puzzling the fuss raised at a Southold school board meeting about a book assigned in the third grade. The book was included in the list of possible resources provided by the state education department but the website notes that before ordering it for a class, an assessment should be made of its appropriateness for the particular community.
I haven’t read the book and so can’t judge its appropriateness, but I know that the loss of one or both parents, which is what seems to have upset the Noncarrows — a couple reported by The Suffolk Times to have complained about the book and its use in the third grade — is a very common theme in children’s literature.
I was particularly startled by the comment of school board member Scott DeSimone that “the intended message [of the book] is about Islam and Allah.” This seemed odd, since the Taliban, which took the girl’s parents, is surely not portrayed in a favorable light. But then I realized that since the book is set in Afghanistan, the grandmother and the sympathetic people who run the girl’s school are undoubtedly Muslim also, though of a more humane sort. Perhaps the state education department should develop resources so adults, especially school board members, could learn about other cultures and understand that Muslims include both bad guys and good guys.
Stanley Brown, New Suffolk