A Book Banning Boom
Book banning was booming in 2013, the Kids' Right to Read Project (KRRP) reports. KRRP, which is co-sponsored by ABFFE and the National Coalition Against Censorship, confronted 49 challenges in 29 states.
The last half of the year was particularly active. Many of the challenges involved books by well-known writers of color, including Invisible Man, The Bluest Eye, The Color Purple, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The House of the Spirits and Bless Me, Ultima. Most were filed by parents who objected to the use of the books in classrooms.
The good news is that these challenges met stiff resistance from students, parents, teachers and librarians. There were two victories in December. Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima was returned to sophomore English classrooms in Driggs, Idaho, and Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits will continue to be taught in the Watauga County Schools in Boone, North Carolina.
And so it all begins again in this new year. The most recent incident in 2014 comes out of Muhlenberg, PA where district teachers are
being asked to rate books in classroom libraries. Notably, it was a bookseller,
Rebecca Laincz of Firefly Bookstore who first alerted ABFFE to the
problem. In response, Acacia and KRRP sent
a letter to
several of the district superintendents. We are awaiting a response.
KRRP will continue to support the fight against book censorship in local communities.
Protest at Tattered Cover Continues
Demonstrators are continuing to picket the Tattered Cover Book Store
in Denver in an effort to force it to abandon its long-standing policy
of non-partisanship on political issues. Several groups that advocate on
behalf of the homeless began demonstrating at Tattered Cover
in December because the store belongs to the Denver Downtown
Partnership, which supports an ordinance that bans "urban camping" on
city streets. The protesters, sometimes accompanied by bullhorns and
drums, are urging customers to boycott Tattered Cover.
In a statement that is being handed to demonstrators and customers, Tattered Cover
says that its policy of non-partisanship is one of the ways it promotes
free expression for its customers. "We do not inhibit them by pushing
our own individual agendas or any official store position; nor do we
allow a vocal minority from outside to coerce us into deciding for those
who visit our store what they 'should' be reading, thinking or
promoting," the statement says.
has a long history of advocacy on behalf of free speech--in the state
legislature, Congress, and the courts-both state and federal. Owner
Joyce Meskis says this is the only exception the store will make in its
policy of non-partisanship.
Book Groups Endorse New Bill to Amend Patriot Act
The Campaign for Reader Privacy, which represents booksellers,
librarians, publishers, and authors, is urging Congress to pass the USA
Freedom Act to restore privacy protections that were eliminated by the
Patriot Act. The Campaign for Reader Privacy
is a joint initiative of the American Booksellers Association (ABA),
the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American
Publishers (AAP), and PEN American Center.
The Freedom Act (S. 1599/H.R. 3361) was introduced on Oct.
29 by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) in
response to revelations that the National Security Agency is using
Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records of the telephone calls
made by Americans without regard to whether they are suspected of
involvement in terrorism. Section 215 eliminated the requirement that
the government show evidence of "individualized suspicion" before it can
conduct a search in a terrorism investigation.
The Freedom Act would limit government searches to the
records of people who are suspected terrorists and their associates. It
also reforms the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Court, which authorized the NSA's bulk collection of records, and
requires the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to audit the
government's use of its secret powers.
PLEASE DONATE! HELP US PROTECT YOUR FREADOM.
KRRP Takes A Stance Against Red Flagging
In public comments on Virginia's State Department of Education website and in a
letter to board members, ABFFE and NCAC's Kids' Right to Read Project asked the Board of
Education to reject a proposed amendment that would force schools to notify
parents any time "sensitive" materials are used in the
This issue began in February of
2013, when a parent in Fairfax County filed a complaint to
have Beloved removed from AP English classrooms because it had given her
son nightmares. The Fairfax County school board felt the complaint was not a
priority for the large district, and did not take it up. Later that spring, the
parent and allied parents met with a Department of Education committee to
further their mission of making sure every parent knows every time anything
"sensitive" is read, seen or heard by their child. What would be
defined as sensitive is unclear.
In our letter, we explained that
this amendment would be tantamount to red flagging books because of content
someone might find offensive and states that the better way -- the only way --
to assess materials is by their educational value.