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Sandy:  I am in search of methods that have worked to get an alternative assignment for my son who is not comfortable with reading dark humor literature to learn about inferences, in the classroom. We have requested an alternative assignment that allows him to learn the information and at this time are being told there is not an alternative assignment. My son is adamant that he will not work on an assignment that discusses a lady killing and stuffing people. The work is “the landlady” by Roald Dahl. any guidance or assistance would be helpful.

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Sandy: Does your son have an IEP or 504 plan. If he does what does it say with regards to alternative assignments. If he does not have an IEP or 504 plan you may not be able to request for a different assignment. Kids have to realize that sometimes you have to read certain books that you just do not like for class. He can’t just say he won’t do the assignment. I remember when I was in 8th grade I had to read the Headless Horseman and I hated the book but i got through it. Even though I had an IEP my parents did not want me doing easier or alternative assignments. What is your son going to do when he gets to college? He can’t just decide not to read the material or he is going to fail that class. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way but I try to be real with advice.

Jill G

Sandy –

I would suggest moving it up the district’s chain of command. I have found this a helpful way to deal with “general ed” concerns like issues with curriculum.

Start with any school-based personnel above the teacher, like a department head or principal, if you haven’t tried them yet. Next move on to whomever is in charge of curriculum for that grade or subject in your district. If that does not work, move on to the Superintendent, then the school committee/school board if need be.

It can take a while to get there but I find that by the time I reach these upper echelons, people are happy to see me go away happy (and out of their hair)!


As a reg ed teacher, my very first response is this: teachers are required to expose students to all types of lit. This story came from the fanciful mind of Roald Dahl. It didn’t really happen. The unit won’t last forever. He is supposed to do what is assigned. Every kid will have to slog through some type of lit that doesn’t suit them. Don’t let the tail wag the dog.

I’m guessing this is 4th or 5th grade. If he is developmentally behind at a 1st grade level, then I certainly agree that dark humor is not for a six-year-old mind.

You have to pick your battles carefully. What you don’t want are teachers who are afraid to use any book that might be controversial in any way. School should not be a vanilla experience.