Wednesday, September 15, 2021

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

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.) 

1 comment:

Ms. 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.