A school board in southwestern Idaho has permanently banned 22 popular books from district libraries, including Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Khaled Hosseini’s “Kite Runner.”
The Nampa School Board voted Monday, the Idaho Press reported, after the books came to the district’s attention following accusations that they contain “pornography.” But some of the books are rated as having little to no sexual content by Common Sense Media, an organization that provides age-based ratings for books, movies, and video games.
For example, “The 57 Bus”, written by Dashka Slater, is described by Common Sense Media as mentioning teenage pregnancy but “no sexually descriptive scenes”. Other books, like “Leah on the Offbeat,” by Becky Albertalli, include LGBTQ+ characters.
Officials from the American Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship and other organizations say challenges and book bans are increasing across the country and, in the past year, have reached unprecedented levels. for decades.
Some Republican-led state legislatures have also increasingly targeted libraries. The Idaho House of Representatives earlier this year passed a bill that would have penalized librarians for distributing allegedly pornographic material to children, but the legislation later died in the Senate.
In Idaho, the Nampa council’s 3-2 vote ended an ongoing review process by district committees that included parents and staff. The books had already been temporarily removed from library shelves until the review was complete, district officials said.
Still, council members said they would be interested in creating a formal review process for disputed books in the future.
Board member Mandy Simpson voted against banning the books.
“I just struggle with ‘forever’ when a process hasn’t been completed to actually analyze and review things,” Simpson said.
But board member Tracey Pearson said it was too risky to wait until the review process was complete.
“I think it’s too long a process and the lifelong trauma of a child not having to experiment (with) something they’ve read… it’s just very destructive and scary “, said Pearson.