A bookstore in Jacksonville, Florida, has created a display titled “Books Recently Banned in Duval County” to protest classroom book restrictions in the state of Florida. The parts are being used by Chamblin Bookmine and Chamblin Uptown to bring attention to the hundreds of books that have been banned from California classrooms.
The meaning of “censored” is shown on a sign affixed to a shelf in Chamblin Bookmine next to the prohibited books collection. Duval County Public Schools’ manager Abby Bell claimed that this is exactly what is happening by taking books out of classrooms for evaluation and possible ban.
“There are a lot of kids that don’t have access to libraries or are financially unable to purchase their own books,”
“and so these things being taken away is a really big deal and something that we’re very passionate about.”
According to Cari Hamoui, manager of Chamblin Uptown, most of the books being withdrawn for evaluation are about minorities and children of color, which is deeply troubling.
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“When we read books, we need to have representation,”
“A lot of kids are not readers and they don’t really want to read, but if they see someone who looks like themselves, that’ll make them pick up the book.”
According to Laureen Ricks, director of strategic communication for Duval County Public Schools,
“we have a wide range of diverse titles including books about African American history, African American literature, and African American leaders. In fact, the State of Florida recently recognised our school district as an “Exemplary School District” for teaching African American History.”
“Now and in all phases of this process, there should not be a case when a classroom doesn’t have any books. At the very least, students should have access to the B.E.S.T. titles with a portion of these titles purchased for each K-5 classroom, state approved civics literacy books, Benchmark Advance guided reading books, Reader’s Theatre, decodables (K-2), class novels, and blended learning platforms that include Raz Kids (K-2) Achieve 3000, Freckle, and Imagine Learning. […] Our media specialists are working around the clock to review books, ensure compliance with Florida legislation, and get books back into media centres and classroom libraries and available to students.”
A number of pamphlets detailing how to get in touch with state representatives, Duval County school administrators, and members of the school board are on display from Chamblin.
“Censorship in general is dangerous because people deserve the right to tell their stories,”
“When you’re taking those stories away, you’re removing pretty much their existence, and that’s not okay, and that’s not something that we believe in.”
Books used in classrooms in Duval County Public Schools are being reviewed for compliance with state law. Books on the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking list developed by the Florida Department of Education are available to classroom instructors after they have been reviewed by media specialists.
Here is a list of books that were rethought and used in the past by the Duval County Public Schools. Check out this list of books that have been green-lit for usage in Florida classrooms by the state’s education authorities.