Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Books by Native writers are on list of banned books at Central York High School in Pennsylvania

Update on Friday, September 24: Here is a link to Central York Banned Book List, which is a downloadable pdf of all the books. The pdf was made by the Central York Book Club (they used the original list). The original list was a spreadsheet that had tabs at the bottom to the 4th-6th grade and the high school books. And, earlier this week, news media reports indicate that the school board lifted the "freeze" on the books. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021. This morning, I saw posts on social about books that are being banned in Central York High School in Pennsylvania. The books are outstanding ones by terrific writers like Zetta Elliott, Jacqueline Woodson, Yuyi Morales, Aisha Saeed, Monica Brown, and Minh Lé. It also has a few books on it by white writers like Eve Bunting's Smoky Night (note: Smoky Night is deeply problematic. Its presence on the list tells us the committee may not be aware of those problems.) 

Books by Native writers are on the list, too. 

The list itself is a spread sheet titled Equity Book Resource List. I gather that a diversity committee created the list for teachers to use, but some parents did not like the books and went to the school board, who put the entire list on hold. There are a few media articles about the list and student protests to the books being banned. Some of the articles are disjointed. If you want to get a solid understanding of what is happening, see Kelly Jensen's article at Book Riot): School District Maintains Ban of Antiracist Books Despite Student Protests

The books by Native writers include:

Picture Books K-3
  • Fry Bread: A Native American Story by Kevin Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
  • The People Shall Continue by Simon Ortiz, illustrated by Sharol Graves 

Books 4-6
  • An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (note: because it is listed in the 4th-6th grade section, I think this is the young peoples adaption that Jean Mendoza and I did. Dunbar-Ortiz and Mendoza are not Native, but I am.). 
  • Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis
  • We Are Grateful by Traci Sorell (Sorell's book is a picture book. Perhaps the committee felt it should be used at the 4-6th grade level. I'm among those who recommend picture books for all readers.) 
Update on Sept 24, 2021:  We do not recommend Jane Yolen's Encounter (it is on the list). And, unfortunately, Brad Meltzer's I Am Rosa Parks is being used on many news article and social media posts about the ban. I would prefer books by Native and Writers/Illustrators of Color receive visibility. 

Update on Jan 18, 2022: We do not recommend Hoffman's Amazing Grace. It is also on the list.  


Jennie said...

Truly disgusting. Our library is going to highlight each of the titles that are on the banned list to bring awareness. Thank you for sharing this story.

The article you linked to provides this as the list of all banned titles -[1]8jaRiRw6vfmcVxmgTbj38rI1oqfaCTIb1sMKx6G1Q04H_Iom6oiYVs&slide=id.g87f9732047_4_28 - I don't see the American Indian titles on this list and want to be sure our library accurately represents which ones have been banned.

Mz. Rachel Super Librarian said...

As a librarian, nothing frustrates me more than banned books, even problematic books. This situation is especially difficult because I have read nearly all of the books you listed and I know what fantastic resources the majority of them are. Unfortunately, given some recent events, I'm not especially surprised that parents are starting to challenge books by BIPOC authors and/or on subjects related to race or racism. The school board needs to step the **** up and not let these books get pulled simply because a few parents are throwing what is essentially a tantrum over books they don't like. For crying out loud, my two-year-old niece has a better attitude about books she doesn't like. She knows she can say, "no thank you," or "I don't like this book," and let someone else enjoy it instead of tearing the whole thing up so no one else can read it.

Debbie Reese said...


The link you shared goes to a page that shows books in Spanish. I'm updated the post to include a link to a pdf of the entire book list.