British Education Secretary Under Fire For Banning American Authors From Official Reading Lists

Posted on May 27, 2014

British Education Secretary Michael Gove is under fire for after banning classic American novels such as The Crucible by Arthur Miller, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath from the school curriculum.

Critics and academics have accused Gove of inserting his own literary preferences into the schools. For years, American classics such as John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men were on the required reading list for British schoolchildren. But that's all changed. All the American authors are off the required reading lists. Gove insisted that British teens need to be reading works by British writers. Fully 75% of the books on the government-directed lists will now be by British authors. The Americans have vanished. Paul Dodd of OCR, which is one of Great Britain's biggest exam boards said, "Of Mice and Men, which Michael Gove really dislikes, will not be included. It was studied by 90% of teenagers taking English literature GCSE in the past. Michael Gove said that was a really disappointing statistic." Dodd also said that they will no longer be allowed to test on To Kill a Mockingbird under the new guidelines.

Gove denies that he has banned the books and said teachers are welcome to assign them as additional reading. But the number of books already assigned on the required list makes that an unlikely prospect. Critics believe he is finally getting his revenge for being forced to read Steinbeck. Gove has denied that he hates Steinbeck and Of Mice and Men. Author and director Sam West says that young people will be denied the opportunity to be inspired by these books "because their authors aren't British."

Gove has responded to the widespread outrage by saying that children are welcome to read Steinbeck on their own, as he did.

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