School board to talk about book removals

Kenneth Palmer

Table of Contents

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The Volusia County School Board is planning a workshop to talk about how decisions are made about which books should be in school libraries — and which shouldn’t.

A list of books removed from Volusia County Schools libraries includes popular young-adult novels, and an Eisner Award-winning graphic novel. In some cases, the books were removed “for content” at some high schools, and kept in other school libraries.

“Decisions at this level is a decision of the media specialist working with their site principal. Individual school’s community and needs are different and are decided as such,” Volusia County Library Media Services and Instructional Materials Specialist Kris Smith said in an email response to Beacon query.

Under new state and district guidelines, Volusia County Schools has a challenge process where parents and other community members can object to library materials. The individual school and media specialist then make a determination about whether to keep or remove the material.

If the parent is not satisfied, the decision is bumped up to a district-level committee that reviews the material.

Schools around the country have grappled with the process of removing books deemed inappropriate, a reality School Board Member Ruben Colón brought up at the end of a recent School Board meeting.

“Many of our schools started their book-challenging process, and I received some really interesting text messages, where parents who were asked to read a certain book were extremely concerned that the examples that they were being asked to read were in the nature of being sexually explicit,” Colón said. “To the point where we would probably ask someone to kindly leave our meeting if they use the words that were in these books.”

A list of books removed or considered for removal illustrates the various reasons books are removed, including books that have simply been lost, or are in disrepair, but also those that have been challenged or removed for content by media specialists.

In Colón’s opinion, the Volusia County Schools policy should be stronger, to prevent some books from ever being in a school library. He was quick to clarify that he was not talking specifically about books with LGBTQ+ themes, but rather those with sexually explicit material.

“This is a hot-button topic and, mind you, I’m strictly talking about sexually explicit books,” Colón told the School Board. “I’m not talking about gender identity. I’m not talking about different families. I’m not talking about any of that. I’m talking about a book that by definition falls under sexually explicit.”

He added, “There are going to be lots of occasions where we’re going to need this book-review committee to decide if something is appropriate, not appropriate, etc. But for the ones that are, quite frankly — just anybody with a reasonable mind would think that doesn’t belong in a school — I think our policy needs to reflect that, and I don’t think it does right now.”

Colón proposed a workshop, which was agreed upon by the School Board.

A workshop is set for 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, in the School Board meeting room, 200 N. Clara Ave., DeLand.


Books in review

The books on this list have been considered for removal for various reasons — not
necessarily because of community challenges — from Volusia County Schools media centers.

The school system doesn’t keep a list of school-based challenges that don’t end up being considered by the districtwide committee.

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater: Removed at two schools due to no checkouts, kept at seven schools
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George Johnson: Kept at one school, challenged at another school, but not in the collection
All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell: Kept at two schools
Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson: Kept at five schools, weeded out at one due to water damage to the book
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher: Kept at three schools, weeded out at one for age
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by Ari Folman: Removed at two middle schools, lost at one middle school, kept at all four high schools
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King: Weeded out at one school for use and kept at one school
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta: A school that had five copies weeded out four and kept one, a regular procedure for Florida Teens Read books; one high school weeded out the book because it hadn’t been checked out, and the book was kept at six high schools
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison: One high school weeded out the book due to disrepair, and the book was kept at seven other high schools
Boy Girl Boy by Ron Koertge: Was challenged at one high school that did not have the book, and was kept by one high school
Bumped by Megan McCafferty: Kept at two high schools
Burned by Ellen Hopkins: Kept at five schools, weeded out at one school because it had not been checked out
The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley: Both copies were lost from old checkouts, no plans to repurchase
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Claire: Removed at two middle schools for content, kept at one middle school and four high schools
Collateral by Ellen Hopkins: Removed for content at one high school
Crank by Ellen Hopkins: Weeded out at three high schools because the copies were old and it had not been checked out, was kept at five high schools, and was lost at one high school
Damsel by Elana K. Arnold: Removed for content at one high school, lost at one high school, and kept at two high schools
Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram: Kept at all six high schools
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: Kept at six high schools, removed at one middle school
Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi: Lost at one high school, removed for content at one high school, weeded out for nonuse at one high school, kept at two high schools
Empire of Storms by Sarah Maas: Removed at all high schools due to content
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer: Kept at two high schools
Fade by Lisa McMann: Lost at one high school, weeded out at one high school for age, kept at two high schools
Fallout by Ellen Hopkins: Weeded out for age at one high school and kept at two high schools
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender: Kept at five high schools
Flamer by Mike Curalo: Kept at three high schools
Forever by Judy Blume: Lost in an old checkout at one high school, no plans to
replace because of age
Fun Home by Allison Bechdel: Removed at one high school due to content
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero: Kept at three schools
Glass by Ellen Hopkins: Lost at one high school, weeded out for age and nonuse at two schools, and kept at four high schools
Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks: Not at one high school, kept at an unknown number of schools
Grit by Gillian French: Kept at one high school
Grown by Tiffany Jackson: Kept at seven high schools
Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler: One highschool copy weeded out due to age and lack of circulation
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Kept at five high schools
The Handsome Girl and the Beautiful Boy by B.T. Gottfred: Kept at one high school
Heroine by Mindy McGinnis: Removed for content at one middle school, kept at eight high schools
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erica Sanchez: Kept at eight high schools
Identical by Ellen Hopkins: Lost at one high school, weeded out for nonuse at three high schools, kept at three high schools
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: Not at one high school, kept at six high schools
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins: Weeded out for nonuse at three high schools, kept at three high schools
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle: Kept at two high schools
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah Maas: Removed at both high schools due to content
L8r, G8r by Lauren Myracle: Weeded out for age at one high school and one middle school; kept at two high schools
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo: Kept at five high schools
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki: Weeded out at one high school for damage, kept at three high schools, lost at one high school
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert: Kept at two high schools
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott: Lost at one high school, kept at one high school
Looking For Alaska by John Green: Not at one high school, removed for content at three middle schools, kept at nine high schools
The Lovely Bones by Alice Siebold: Removed from one middle school for content,
not at one high school, kept at eight high schools
Lucky by Alice Sebold: Weeded out at one high school due to age/no checkouts
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews: Kept at four high schools
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski: Kept at three high schools
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany Jackson: Removed for content at one middle school, kept at nine high schools
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera: Missing or lost at two high schools, kept at two high schools
Neanderthal Opens The Door to the Universe by Preston Norton: Kept at nine high schools
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult: Kept at two high schools
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed: Removed for content at one high school and kept at eight high schools
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez: Removed for content at two high schools, kept at two high schools
People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins: Kept at two high schools
Perfect by Ellen Hopkins: Kept at five high schools, weeded out for nonuse at one high school
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: Weeded out for content at one middle school, kept at seven high schools
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy: Removed for content at one middle school, lost at one high school, and kept at four high schools
Red at the Bone by Jaqueline Woodson: Lost copy at one high school
Red Hood by Elana Arnold: Lost at one high school, removed for content at two high schools
Red, White and Royal Blue by Case McQuiston: Removed for content at one high school, not there at another high school (challenger mistake); lost at one high school, kept at one high school
Rumble by Ellen Hopkins: Weeded out at two high schools due to lack of circulation/age
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield: Kept at one school
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut: Lost at one high school, kept at five high schools
Smoke by Ellen Hopkins: Kept at one school
Sold by Patricia McCormick: Removed at one middle school due to content, kept at seven high schools
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: Requested removal only at one middle school, removed there for content. This book is still at many other middle schools and high schools.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: Weeded out for age at one middle school, lost at one high school, kept at one middle school and nine high schools
This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson: One copy, lost in fall 2021; no plans to repurchase
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki: Removed at one middle school for content, not at one requested school, kept at three high schools
Throne of Glass and the “Court of Throne and Roses” series by Sarah Maas: Although challenged, the media specialists met over the summer and had already decided to remove these two series due to content; includes one middle school and seven high schools.
Tilt by Ellen Hopkins: Weeded for age at three high schools
Tower of Dawn by Sarah Maas: Removed at all schools due to content. See Throne of Glass line
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins: Removed at all high schools due to content, individual schools decision
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathreu: Six copies kept at high schools, one copy never there
TTFN by Lauren Myracle: Weeded out at one school due to age/nonuse, kept at two schools
TTYL by Lauren Myracle: One weeded out due to damage, one lost, kept at two schools
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: Three copies kept by high schools, one weeded out because it had been lost
We Are Not Yet Equals by Carol Anderson: Two copies kept by high schools
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson: One middle school copy weeded out due to lack of checkout, seven copies kept by high schools
Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: One middle school copy removed for content, four high school copies kept, one high school copy weeded out due to damage
YOLO by Lauren Myracle: One high school copy lost, one high school copy kept
The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins: Kept at one school, the other one is in discussion
You Too? by Janet Gurtler: Kept at two schools

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