May 10, 2022 - News

Polk County retains almost all books under review

Illustration of three flying books.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After a national group called to have 16 books removed from Polk County school libraries, most of the books will stay on shelves — with some being added to more libraries.

Driving the news: At a workshop Tuesday, the Polk County School Board discussed results from an independent board made up of parents, teachers, students and librarians who reviewed the books in question.

  • Per a recommendation from the superintendent, parents will soon be able to fill out a yearly form opting their students in or out of checking out specific titles at their school library.
  • Parents will also be able to review their student's library reading history.

Flashback: County Citizens Defending Freedom called for the books to be removed for violating Florida Statue 847.012 by containing "detailed verbal descriptions or narrative accounts of sexual excitement, or sexual conduct and that is harmful to minors."

The latest: The independent board made recommendations about each book. Here's what will remain off shelves:

  • "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult will be pulled from middle schools but stay in high schools.
  • "Drama" by Raina Telgemier is being pulled from elementary schools but will remain in middle and high schools.

What's being added: "Two Boys Kissing," "More Happy Than Not," "It's Perfectly Normal" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" will be added to middle schools, and remain in high schools.

  • "George" by Alex Gino will be added to elementary schools and remain in middle and high schools.

The rest of the titles will remain available where they are.

But, but, but: The books will not be returned to school shelves until the opt-in/opt-out process is finalized over the summer, Polk schools spokesperson Jason Geary told Axios.

What they're saying: Polk County School Board member Lisa Miller said at the workshop that her email inbox has been inundated with requests that the board review "everything from Judy Bloom to the Bible."

  • She called for the district to redo its book review policy, saying individual schools should decide which books are available.

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