Book Bans in Idaho: A Bold Graduation Gift Symbolizing Resistance

Discover a young woman’s bold move during her graduation, inspiring us all to fight back against censorship.

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Featured image of library background with three books on shelves, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison all crossed out with red X's.

In recent years, Idaho has been known for pulling well-known books from the shelves, such as The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Many people are outraged at the school boards in Idaho that have been banning multiple titles due to requests from far-right groups. One person in particular, Annabelle Jenkins, a student at the Idaho Fine Arts Academy, decided to make a brave gesture at her class of 2024 graduation in response to the situation.

Jenkins described how her love for reading started at a young age and emphasized her need to protect libraries, so it was shocking to find that a teacher at her school was arguing over the graphic novel version of The Handmaid’s Tale. This sparked an idea in Jenkins’s mind that would ultimately cause a viral TikTok video moment. Jenkins walked across the stage at her 2024 graduation just like everybody else, but she decided to make a bold statement and pulled out a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel from her graduation gown. With determination, she handed it to her superintendent. Jenkins recalls her superintendent refusing to take the book and eventually having to drop it at his feet.

A collage of various books by different authors that have been banned.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR/PRITSON

Book banning in America has become a well-known occurrence in the past few years. According to Pen America, in the fall of 2023, 4,349 books were banned throughout 23 states, and Florida experienced the highest number of book bans within just two years. We should all protect libraries and the right to read, not only for ourselves but for future generations so they can learn, explore, and grow. Libraries and reading pave the way for future generations. Jenkins’s courageous stand brings attention to the conversation of the ban on books in America and inspires others to follow suit.

Book bans have specifically found their way into the LGBTQ+ community, where stereotypical ideas have taken LGBTQ+ and gender-identity books off the shelves in many school districts. As Pen America states, “Books with LGBTQ+ characters and themes made up 36 percent of all bans from 2021 to 2023.” With the ongoing fight for trans rights, we see a correlation between LGBTQ+ books and those books that have been banned from school libraries. Banning books containing LGBTQ+ themes harms the community, and it should be our responsibility to fight back in the war on books.

Jenkins has shown us that it’s important to question those in authority and fight back against book bans. She included a quote by Ellen Hopkins in the book gifted to her superintendent, stating, “Torch every book, burn every page, char every word to ash. Ideas are incombustible, and therein lies your real fear.” They might be able to ban our books, but they will never ban our ideas.


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To find more books like The Handmaid’s Tale, check out our Banned Books: Because We Stand With the Well Informed bookshelf on Bookshop.org.

FEATURED IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / PRITSON