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‘The art of taking life’: Parent complains summer reading is inappropriate

Stephanie Coueignoux

Updated: Jul 13, 2018 – 7:21 PM

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WALTHAM, Mass. – A book all about killing: that’s what some parents are calling one high school‘s summer assignment.

The award-winning, New York Times Best-Selling book is called Scythe and it’s about two teenagers who “must master the art of taking life.”

But some parents aren’t happy Waltham High School students have been assigned the book as summer reading.  

“It’s a whole book about the art of killing. Why? Why are we reading this?” parent Anncy Graziano said. 

Students chose it from a list of options approved by school officials.

The book is about two teenagers who must learn how to kill. They apprentice with a Scythe, a powerful individual who determines who they must kill.

An excerpt describes one scenario involving a classroom full of children “cowering from me.”

It’s a fictional scenario that is far too real for Graziano. 

“Why bring it into our school? Why force these kids to read something that makes them about killing all summer?” she said. 

In an email to parents, Waltham School Officials explained that a group of 20 teachers came up with a list of books. Students then voted for the one they wanted to read. 

“By asking all students, faculty and staff members to read one common book; it ultimately helps to foster a sense of community, promotes an interest in reading that transcends the English classroom,” the email read.

Graziano says after she complained, school officials told her that her son could choose another book to read. 

“I don’t think that’s enough. There are other kids reading this book. I can control what my son does, but there are so many other kids in this school,” she said. “Any one child who takes this book slightly the wrong way is now so impressionable.”

In September, teachers will hold events and discussions about the book. The author is also expected to visit.

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