Check Your Shelf

How to Talk About Book Bans

Welcome to Check Your Shelf. After today, the next few issues of CYS will be sent out to you from sunny California as I vacation for a week and a half! Like before, I’ll do a slightly pared down version of the newsletter, particularly in terms of banned book news, but I’ll make sure all of the important stuff is covered.

Libraries & Librarians

Cool Library Updates

The National Library Board of Singapore has launched a manga library.

Worth Reading

Librarians are finding that thousands of books published before 1964 are no longer protected by copyright law.

Book Adaptations in the News

Helen Mirren is playing Patricia Highsmith in an upcoming biopic thriller.

How to Train Your Dragon is getting a live-action adaptation for 2025.

A24 is adapting Patrick Radden Keefe’s The Snakehead as a limited series.

The upcoming sequel for I Am Legend will follow the events of the original movie’s alternate ending.

Adrian McKinty’s The Island is being adapted into a TV series.

Amazon has renewed The Peripheral for a second season.

Trailer for Shadow & Bone, Season 2.

New trailer for Daisy Jones and the Six.

Banned & Challenged Books

How to talk about book bans.

Marjorie Taylor Greene and George Santos have co-sponsored a bill that could restrict students’ access to LGBTQ books across the country.

Schools become a flashpoint for Republicans eyeing a future White House run.

As book bans and legislative attacks escalate, New Press is pushing back.

The campaign to sabotage Texas’s public schools.

An update on the Huntsville Public Library (TX), where the city privatized the library after controversy erupted over the Library’s displays.

Midland County (TX) leaders want to check books donated to the public library for outlawed titles and subjects.

Belton ISD (TX) trustees approved the removal of All Boys Aren’t Blue and Kiss Number 8 from the high school library.

DeSantis now says teachers are intentionally removing books in an effort to make him look bad. Dude, come on.

The sports world reacts to the ridiculous book ban in Duval County (FL) that has removed two books about baseball legends Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente. Although this is just the tip of the iceberg, as more than 1 million books are now subject to review in the county based on DeSantis’ new laws, and the county is looking for parents and community members to participate in a review of the books and instructional materials used in the classroom.

People are pushing back against Pinellas County Schools (FL) removing The Bluest Eye.

Since the implementation of its opt-out policy for library materials at Flagler Schools (FL), only four students out of nearly 12,700 have restricted access.

Few of the books that were challenged last year in Indian River County (FL) schools are being checked out.

The Lafayette Parish Library (LA) may consider restricting teen access to sexually explicit books.

Livingston Parish (LA) library board members rejected a recent proposal to censor LGBTQ+ books. “[Trustees] deemed the effort an attempt to circumvent their policies and procedures, though the matter could continue indefinitely as conservative activists become familiar with the system.”

Meanwhile in the same parish, a council member admitted to hiring a private investigator to attempt to access online pornography using library computers. “The investigator’s findings are evidence that minors still have access to sexually explicit material on the internet, said Talbert, who asked parish library director Giovanni Tairov to address the issue.” I have THOUGHTS on internet filters in public libraries, but I won’t go into them here. Just know that this whole situation makes my blood boil.

A recent poll showed “massive” support for parents’ rights in New Hampshire, which…what does that even mean? I’m guessing that the poll did not indicate what lengths conservative right wing groups have gone to in the name of parents’ rights. And which parents even get to exercise their rights at all?

An op-ed about how being made “uncomfortable” isn’t a sufficient reason to pull books from classrooms. This was written in regards to the Selinsgrove Area School District (PA) removing Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes from the 8th grade curriculum after several students said that the book made them uncomfortable.

Washington Township (PA) High School has removed The Bluest Eye from its English curriculum after a single complaint.

Kutztown School District (PA) was supposed to host a One Book, One School program featuring Alan Gratz’s book about climate change, Two Degrees. Until people complained about the book’s theme, that is.

Norwin School District (PA) delays its decision to remove the book Al Capone Does My Shirts from the 5th grade curriculum.

A social media post from a Telford Borough Council member (PA) suggested “that financing for the library would be in jeopardy ‘if they keep evangelizing for trans agenda and LGBTQ.’”

Central Bucks School District (PA) is considering the removal of 60 more books from its libraries.

A Maryland state review board ruled that Frederick County Public Schools can hold closed meetings to discuss challenged books without violating the state’s Open Meetings Act.

The Isle of Wight (VA) County School Board voted to prohibit elementary and middle school student access to “sexually explicit” materials, defined as “any “lewd exhibition of nudity,” or any image or description of “sexual excitement, sexual conduct, sadomasochistic abuse, coprophilia, urophilia, bestiality or fetishism.”

Amherst (VA) schools recently adopted an “opt-in” policy for sexually explicit materials, and people are rightly frustrated.

Madison County in Virginia is a “testing ground” for book banning.

Over 200 Alabama high school students staged a walkout in protest of school officials who ordered students to remove references to certain events from an upcoming Black History Month program, like, oh, you know…slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.

Hilliard City Schools (OH) is facing a lawsuit from a small group of parents, which would prohibit discussions of “sexual matter” with students, and would prohibit Hilliard teachers from wearing badges that show their support for LGBTQ+ students.

Portage (MI) school librarians give a presentation about how books are selected. Also included in the article is this nugget: “A citizen, who does not have a child in the district, made a complaint about the novel [Push], saying it was too graphic for students.”

Parents in Rapid River, Michigan are upset about the use of American Gods in a senior English class. The superintendent said that “the book has been removed from the classroom” and that there will be “a new school policy for screening literature and textbooks.”

Michigan’s queer librarians speak out about book bans, the Catholic-led “Hide the Pride” campaign, and providing comfort to LGBTQ+ youth.

The Brandywine (MI) school board has voted to halt all new book additions so that they can review the books already in the library.

An Indiana parent and failed school board candidate has created a document of potentially problematic titles in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. libraries. Seriously, all of these failed board candidates need to find better hobbies. Also in the same library, the library director shared the results of a recent survey of the teen department, where the majority of respondents found the space to be welcoming and inclusive.

Indiana considers legislation that would strip legal defense for school libraries.

Attorneys have determined that Marathon County (WI) officials violated the First Amendment when they threatened to withhold public library funding if certain books weren’t removed.

A group of “male, book-banning candidates for the Baraboo School Board [WI] are running as a unit rather than as individuals. The money behind them has enabled them to mount quite an impressive unified campaign.”

In New London (WI) elementary schools, two juvenile horror novels are being restricted for younger readers, and some parents are pushing to have them removed outright.

The Iowa GOP House Government Oversight Committee is structuring its hearings in regards to banned books so that they only hear directly from parents who are in favor of banning.

Actually, it should be damn hard to ban a book in Iowa.

A new rule targeting Missouri libraries and allegedly pornographic content could go into effect with no public hearing.

The same grandmother who unsuccessfully tried to remove Sex is a Funny Word from the Keene Memorial Library (NE) is trying again with This Book is Gay.

Clark County Public Library (KY) has restricted access to Gender Queer so that patrons under 18 cannot check out the book without parental permission.

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters is cracking down on inappropriate materials in school libraries by potentially downgrading a district’s accreditation status if it makes “pornographic or sexualized content” available to minors.

A South Dakota Senate committee has killed a bill that would have limited book access in school libraries.

Meanwhile, North Dakota has advanced two separate bills that would prohibit public libraries from displaying “explicit sexual material.”

This is a really gross op-ed from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, describing the book Boy Toy by Barry Lyga: “Not only is this book included in Coeur d’Alene’s Teen collection, but the library staff had featured it on display. “Hey kids, pick me!” Eerily similar to stealthy tactics child groomers use.” Also worth mentioning that this person is not a resident of Coeur d’Alene, but thinks that she has taxpayer status because she belongs to a library network with a reciprocal relationship with Coeur d”Alene.

Idaho lawmakers unveiled another bill targeting sexually explicit materials in libraries, with the main difference being that libraries would be held to civil penalties, instead of criminal, if the library violates the terms of the law. But some are worried that this bill could also give insurance companies the final say on public library materials based on the likelihood that the library would attract a lawsuit, or could prevent libraries from being fully insured.

The Concerned Citizens of Meridian (ID) have filed a petition to eliminate the library district altogether.

The Orem Public Library (OR), and the City Council, have been accused by the Utah Library Association of removing and subsequently discontinuing heritage month displays.

Some Oceanside (CA) residents have proposed a ban on 11 school library books that reference LGBTQ topics, sexual content, swearing, and other issues. One resident also referred to the school board members as “groomers” for endorsing LGBTQ inclusivity.

Gender Queer and Fun Home will remain at Poway Unified School District (CA).

Let’s Talk About It is being used as a straw man to pummel public education in Alaska.

Why proposed laws targeting drag shows are proliferating in America.

Tennessee’s LGBTQ community rallies as the state pushes forward on banning public drag shows.

Fear of backlash encourages censorship.

The book that exposed anti-Black racism in the classroom.

Books & Authors in the News

Roald Dahl’s books are being sanitized in new editions, and yeah, a lot of people have issues with this.

Oprah selects Susan Cain’s Bittersweet as her next book club pick.

Twitter is criticizing Greta Thunberg’s upcoming book because it’s being printed as a physical book. “My head hurts thinking about all the trees that were killed to print these,” said one Twitter user.

Faleena Hopkins, a romance novelist who first made headlines with her registered trademark on the word “cocky” back in 2018, was arrested in Grand Teton National Park after leading officers on a 24-mile high speed chase, and is now listed as a missing person after being released from jail.

A Vermont author’s book becomes a bestseller 10 years after its release, thanks to his daughter’s TikTok account.

Numbers & Trends

The oldest nearly complete Hebrew Bible heads to auction, and is predicted to sell for $30-50 MILLION.

The best-selling books of the week.

Beyond book trends: what the book world really needs.

Award News

The 2023 PEN America Literary Awards finalists have been announced.

An introduction to the Nobel Prize in Literature.

On the Riot

Get your Scholastic Book Fair fix with these goods! (Seriously, I’m about to buy everything from the Etsy shop selling those Goosebumps earrings!)

6 gorgeous home library aesthetics and how to achieve them.

Sydney libraries celebrate WorldPride 2023.

Must-listen: bookish podcast episodes from non-bookish podcasts.

The enduring ableism of Lady Chatterly’s Lover.

How to hold onto your love of books when you read for work.

black and white cat sitting in a person's lap in front of a closed laptop

This morning, I was in a telehealth therapy appointment and had a bit of an emotional moment. Dini crawled into my lap, then put his paws on my shoulder and started licking my nose in the middle of the appointment, and my heart absolutely MELTED. I know he was just looking for attention at an inconvenient time like he always does, but it was exactly what I needed. This photo was taken right after therapy ended – just look how pleased he is with himself!

All right folks. I’ll see you next week from the West Coast!

—Katie McLain Horner, @kt_librarylady on Twitter.