ASHEVILLE—After Lisa Baldwin, a former member of the Buncombe County Board of Education, recently complained about a novel included in her child’s 10th grade honors English class at A.C. Reynolds High School, a flurry of messages commenced, according to newly released public records.

Baldwin has appealed the official decision, which can be read below, to keep the book in the curriculum.

The Kite Runner, a 2003 bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini about an Afghani boy, is the subject of 882 pages of Buncombe school system emails that reveal the tensions in the controversy and can be read below. They were released following a public-records request.

Baldwin weighed in many times, as did parents, former students, school system officials and representatives of anti-censorship advocacy groups. (Carolina Public Press published a profile of Baldwin in 2012.)

On her website, Baldwin wrote that “The Kite Runner is a dark and disturbing adult fiction novel set in war-torn Afghanistan and has been frequently challenged by concerned parents for its sexually explicit content.” A release from the school system, however, said that the book had been reviewed by the school’s Media/Technology Advisory Committee on May 11. Committee members determined, the release said, that the book “possesses sufficient literary, thematic, and aesthetic merits to warrant its inclusion for study at teacher discretion.”

Baldwin has appealed a school media committee’s decision to keep including The Kite Runner in classes. On Thursday (May 28), she asked that another review, the results of which are pending, be conducted.

For the record: The announcement from Buncombe Schools and the committee report saying the book passes muster

For the record: Emails surrounding the controversy

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Jon Elliston is the lead contributing open government reporter at Carolina Public Press. Contact him at

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  1. this was a discussion that should not have gone beyond the english department at the high school; for one i am aghast the someone would think this book inappropriate for advanced reading level 10th graders. when we choose our english instructors we should invest them with the confidence and integrity to make literary choices for our children. when ‘words’ like muslim become fodder for right wing thought, we should consider religion and creationism in the same vein.

    1. Ms. Ballard are you aware that your comment, “when ‘words’ like muslim become fodder for right wing thought” makes no sense? Are you aware that President George Bush used ‘The Kite Runner’ as propaganda for the war in Afghanistan? The Kite Runner addresses only one problem with radical Islam – the contradiction that Islam rejects homosexuality but that radical Islamists may practice homosexual rape of young boys. Try reading the NYT Bestseller that explores the effects of Sharia Law in the middle east. ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ is a much more appropriate book for our high school students to read and is on the reading list for college preparatory high schools, NOT ‘The Kite Runner’.