Parents voice concerns over banned books

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In the wake of the book bans enforced in Florida’s public schools in 2022, over 1,406 titles have been removed from classroom and library shelves, sending waves of concerns through communities, particularly in Leon County.

Students, parents and teachers are growing increasingly anxious, fearing that their schools may be next in line for further bans as the new school year progresses.

When the ban initially started, John Cloud, an assistant third grade teacher at Gilchrist Elementary School, expected levels of restrictions for the books that would possibly be banned. However, when the list came out for Florida schools, Cloud said he was shocked.

Cherished books that often serve as the foundation for students’ love of reading were removed from the shelves.

“Never in a million years did I think the books that have been encouraged for generations would be part of this ban,” Cloud said.

Teachers are deeply concerned about the potential impact of recent book bans on the ongoing challenge of helping students catch up with their expected reading levels. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, students’ reading levels have fallen below the anticipated levels for their grade.

Treasure Diaz, an English teacher at RAA Middle School, emphasizes that a significant number of middle school students in Florida are still reading at an elementary level due to the effects of the pandemic. Diaz firmly believes that adding more restrictions on available books will hinder students’ progress towards attaining higher reading levels.

“Students were already struggling with reading due to the pandemic, removing books that explores their interest will only make the situation worse,” Diaz said.

Over 1,406 books have been removed from public school shelves in Florida since the enforcement of bans in 2022. This ban was proposed by parents of students in public schools and other Florida residents.

The Florida Department of Education released a document that includes the banned book list.

Notable titles on the list include “Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation,” “The Kite Runner,” “The Hate U Give” and “The Lovely Bones,” among others.

Leon County schools did not partake in these book removals until July after Moms of Liberty reported 5 books to Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna.

Savannah Harris-Lee, a parent of two students enrolled in Leon County Schools, has voiced her concerns over the recent removal of books from school shelves. Harris-Lee said she hopes that this will mark the end of such removals, emphasizing the challenges her sons face in finding books that both stimulate their reading levels and capture their interest.

“My sons are bored with the books that are provided already,” she said. “If Leon County decides to remove more books, I’m afraid my kids will stop reading because they have nothing interesting to read about.”

As of now, Leon County Schools has not announced any more books being banned. But if parents want to help books stay on shelves in Leon County, it is best to make sure you are aware of any challenges in school libraries and support the librarians by contacting the Office for Intellectual Freedom.