Goddard school district returns 29 books removed from circulation

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A list of books removed from circulation in Goddard school libraries includes novels by Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison. (Suzanne Perez/KMUW)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Goddard school district has returned the 29 books they had recently pulled from circulation after one parent challenged the order.

On Thursday, Nov. 4, the district removed nearly 30 books from their libraries. This comes after a parent complained about the language and graphics used in a book their child came home with back in September. They then created a list and requested the books to be put under review. The books were pulled from shelves as a result and “made to hold” until further notice.

The complaint focused on the novel “The Hate U Give,” written by Angie Thomas. The story follows a 16-year-old girl who witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend by a police officer.

Listed among this novel were books that feature themes about gender identity, race, and sexual orientation. Books such as “They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group” by Susan Campbell Bertoletti, “Fences” by August Wilson, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, and “This Book is Gay” by James Dawson.

We see other popular novels in this list, such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky, and “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. You can find the full list here.

“When this list came to our attention, we checked with multiple school librarians regarding the national push to challenge these books,” the email sent out to parents and guardians in the Goddard school district said.

Social media users took to the internet; they were not happy. Even some authors joined in on the conversation.

The email was sent out Wednesday, Nov. 10, after deciding to put the challenged books back into circulation.

“Today, after the review, the recommendation from principals and librarians is to leave all books active and to encourage parents to contact them directly if they have questions about the books being challenged nationally,” the email said.

According to The American Library Association, book challenges have been up 60% since last year.

Even last month, Texas lawmaker Matt Krause sent out an investigation. He made a list of about 850 books and asked schools statewide to tell him if they had the books on his list and how much money they spent on the books. Most of which had themes of race or sexuality.

Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education for PEN America, said that the Goddard case was troubling because books were pulled off shelves before the review.

“That’s very concerning, considering the importance of individual liberties and the importance of the freedom to read in a democratic society.”

“You have a single parent … produce a list of books, and the district says, ‘Sure, no problem. We won’t let anybody read those books because one parent complained,'” Friedman said.

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