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After finding controversial novel on school’s summer reading list, teenage twins push for change in state law


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    CHICAGO (WBBM) — Homework; for many of us adults, it’s been eons since we had school assignments. Now 13-year-old twins in southwest suburbs want to give Illinois lawmakers a big project.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory explains.

It’s below freezing in mid-January, but two St. Dominic Catholic School students say reading is a great way to transport yourself.

“It takes you somewhere,” Kyra Pierce said.

What she and her sister, Phallon, didn’t imagine was finding a book they call racist on their 8th grade summer reading list: Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

“We found its original title – Ten Little N*****s – and found the cover of it with the doll hanging,” Phallon said.

First shocked, then saddened, the identical twins said they realized diversity in their school-assigned books was lacking.

“When you see a character or read about a character that looks like you, or acts like you, or has the same background as you, you just get confident,” Kyra said.

The book was removed from their reading list after they made noise about it this summer

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Joliet shared changes in curriculum and programming it has made in recent months, but she wouldn’t comment on the girls’ issue with their summer reading list, nor would she comment on what they’re up to next.

“It’s going to be called the Pierce Twins Bill,” said Illinois State Rep LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago).

That’s right. Ford is taking the 13-year-old Bolingbrook sisters to Springfield.

“They said that they wanted to change the law in Illinois so no one had to endure the pain that they endured,” Ford said.

The literal lawmakers meet virtually to discuss their proposal every week.

The culturally and racially diverse bunch want to craft legislation that would mandate every teacher’s book assignments be approved at the district level; a sort of checks and balances.

“We have to make sure that whoever has the authority to create the list that they have the understanding of accurate history that’s not bias and that aligns with state standards,” Ford said.

The legal language is still in editing.

“We know other kids are probably going through the same thing, so we’re like, ‘What can we do to help?” Kyra said.

It’s extra homework this pair of protagonists don’t mind.

“Literally two seconds ago trying to get book off book list. Now we’re going to have a bill,” Phallon said.

A plot twist with many eager to see how this story ends.

Ford said he plans to introduce the Pierce Twins Bill next month.

CBS 2 was curious how the Illinois State Board of Education felt about district approval of books, so we reached out several times over the past week. No one from ISBE got back to us.

In a statement, the Diocese of Joliet said:

“The Diocese of Joliet is fortunate to benefit from an array of backgrounds and traditions in our parishes and schools. Motivated by our faith, we have and will always especially advocate for the rights of those forgotten by the rest of society, and this summer’s events provided a reminder of the need for social justice in our society for all races.”

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