For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bookstr News, this is an ongoing series where we round up the biggest news that happened in the bookish world over the last week and deliver it straight to you. As always, a lot of things have happened this week so let’s get right into it.
And you thought we wouldn’t talk about book bans…
Big Win against Book Bans Per Texas Judge Ruling
If you’ve been following Bookstr News for any period of time, you know that one of the biggest aggressors in the wave of book bans has been the state of Texas. For once, there’s some good news to come from this topic!
A federal judge has ruled that Llano County officials must return the twelve books they had removed from school libraries, back onto the shelves. In this order, the judge also made it very clear that the county is not to ban or remove any other books while the case is still pending and ongoing.
Like most of the book bans occurring in the country, the books that the county wanted to remove were books that primarily deal with subjects related to race, LGBTQIA+, and gender-related topics and were taken off of shelves in the summer and fall of 2021. Titles that were banned include It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender, and Sexual Health; Larry the Farting Leprechaun; Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen; and They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group.
These removals were advocated for by members of the community. CNN reported, “In one email from community member Bonnie Wallace, who was later elected to the library board, she suggested ‘all the pastors to get involved in this. Perhaps they can organize a weekly prayer vigil on this specific issue…May God protect our children from this FILTH.’”
The county commissioners had dissolved the library board and replaced it with a new “Library Advisory Board” where staff librarians were banned from the meetings and all books had to be presented and approved by the board.
The Plaintiffs’ Attorney Ellen Leonida said, “This is a ringing victory for democracy. The government cannot tell citizens what they can or can’t read. Our nation was founded on the free exchange of ideas, and banning books you disagree with is a direct attack on our most basic liberties.”
Whether this leads to a series of rulings across the country is yet to be seen, but it’s nice to see some pushback after weeks of reporting on these bans.
Judy Blume Speaks Up
Many authors have been speaking up and out about how they feel about the resurgence of book bans across the country, and Judy Blume has added her perspective into the mix and there were some interesting things discussed.
Blume’s novel Forever was recently banned and removed from Florida bookshelves. This is nothing new for the author as her books have been attracting controversy and been the subject of bans for decades, particularly her 1970 novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. The novel received criticism for its depiction of a young girl exploring adolescent issues related to puberty and religion.
In an interview with Laura Kuenssberg, Blume said when asked about book bans: “I thought that was over frankly, I thought we had come through that, you know, not in every way, but I never expected us to be back where we were in the 80s plus, much worse. I came through the 80s when book banning was really at its height. And it was terrible. And then libraries and schools began to get policies in place and we saw a falling off of the desire to censor books. Now it is back, it is back much worse – this is in America, and it is back so much worse than it was in the 80s. Because it’s become political.”
When asked “if she was worried about intolerance in the US, she replied: ‘Absolutely, intolerance about everything, gender, sexuality, racism. It’s just reaching a point where again we have to fight back, we have to stand up and fight.’”
We want to leave this story with what Blume had to say with regard to the justification parents often use for these actions which are about protecting the children, “I mean, there’s a group of mothers now going around saying that they want to protect their children. Protect them from what? You know, protect them from talking about things? Protect them from knowing about things? Because even if they don’t let them read books, their bodies are still going to change and their feelings about their bodies are going to change. And you can’t control that. They have to be able to read, to question.”
You tell them, Judy.
Pennsylvania High School Walkout Over Book Ban
In response to the Pennsylvania book bans by the Central Bucks School District, Pennsylvania’s Perkiomen Valley School Board was planning on doing the same thing.
Outraged by this decision, over 150 students of Perkiomen Valley High School walked out of classes and into the stadium to speak out against the book bans which would ban anything that is deemed sexually inappropriate for the students.
Aspen Bradley, the event organizer, and high school junior said, “This entire process of removing texts creates a message of misinformation within the schools, but it also promotes the ostracization and erasure of student humanity. Youth and young adults are at some of their most vulnerable moments, so neglecting to nourish them or limiting their exposure to support in that state is irresponsible and dangerous.”
PV Forward, a coalition of left-leaning candidates for the school board, supported the walkout by saying “We are so proud of the Perkiomen Valley High School students who stood up for what they believed in during yesterday’s walkout. Bravo to these young people for knowing how to make their voices heard on proposed school district policy through peaceful demonstration.”
Those who stand by the book ban say that books with sexual content are inappropriate for high schoolers. Time will only tell where this goes from here. Here’s hoping that the message these kids are spreading will be heard.
Ending On a Sad Note…
We usually like to end our Bookstr News Roundup on a happier note, but this feels like the right story to end with, this week.
On April 4th, 2023 at 9:33 A.M., The Book Depository announced that they would be closing their virtual bookstore doors for good. Known as one of the best booksellers, especially for international orders, this is a sad day for book lovers of all kinds. They were known for their wide variety of books and free shipping to 160 countries.
For those who haven’t been keeping in touch, it was acquired by Amazon in 2011, and just recently, Amazon announced they were going to be closing up shop.
For those who wish to purchase books, you have until April 26th to do so. Customer support will continue to be active until June 23rd of this year. The Book Depository will cancel and refund any pre-orders that have been made between April 26th the 28th. If your pre-order has not shipped by that date, they will let you know via email and a refund will be issued.
And with this, it’s a wrap on this week’s Bookstr News! Be sure to check out our full video on YouTube and you can find our previous episode, here.