In an attempt to get more kids to spend time reading this summer, a New York school district “freshened up” its summer reading recommendations to include titles and topics administrators thought teens would be interested in. Included among these: rapper 50 Cent’s “From Pieces to Weight.”
Students of the Rochester School District were encouraged to read the rapper’s memoir which depicts (in graphic detail) the rapper’s early life embroiled in the New York City drug trade and utilizes rough language and violent depictions that fans of 50 Cent’s music are undoubtedly familiar with. “If it’s a situation where everything in the book is mother this and mother that, then of course it’s inappropriate,” Rev. Marlowe Washington, head of the Rochester Literacy Movement told the city’s Democrat and Chronicle. “We have to understand what will get the kids interested, but there has to be a balance of how far we will go with that.”
Though she’s never read the book, school administrator Beth Mascitti-Miller said that district staff picks books for the list and will review them if there are complaints from the community. “We want to make sure we’re putting appropriate material on the list,” she said. “You want to get kids interested, but you also want to make sure they have plenty of choices and that you’re not endorsing anything that might not be appropriate.”
Perhaps most controversial about the 50 Cent book is the author himself, known for explicit and often vulgar lyrics about drugs, sex and violence. Some of his songs include the sound of rounds of bullets being fired in the background.
The text of the book is no different. Described on its back cover as a “violent and introspective memoir,” it documents his childhood in Jamaica, Queens County, his experience selling drugs and his ultimate rise to stardom.
Scenes of the book depict violent gun fights, and the book makes liberal use of R-rated expletives.
The school’s reading list choices have even drawn national attention from the media: