Nov 20, 2023 - News

Hanover County schools bans 75 more books, including "Wicked" and "The Handmaid's Tale"

Illustration of a hand reaching for a row of books that are falling like dominoes.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Hanover County school administrators on Friday instructed teachers and librarians to remove a list of 75 books from shelves, including an array of well-known titles.

What's happening: "The Handmaid's Tale," "Slaughter House 5," and "Wicked" (yes, the one about the witch in the "Wizard of Oz") are among the books the Hanover School Board flagged for removal.

What they're saying: A review panel of teachers, principals and librarians ruled the books "meet the School Board's criteria for being sexually explicit," said school district spokesman Chris Whitley.

  • Removal should be complete by Dec. 22, he added.

Catch up quick: The Hanover County School Board voted in June to give itself full authority to remove books from school libraries without input from parents or teachers — and immediately removed 19 books from shelves.

The big picture: Book bans have surged in schools and public libraries across the country since about 2021, when conservatives ramped up a nationwide culture war over what kids are exposed to, Axios' Sareen Habeshian has reported.

  • In the first eight months of 2023, 356 unique book titles were challenged across Virginia — nearly double the number the previous year.
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