Book Banning Legislation in Florida, Resolution To Stop Teaching "Huck Finn" in NJ, and More | NewsBites

Book banning is back in the news (with Florida legislation that could make buying some books a felony), librarians honor a principal who stood up to a challenge, and more.

Book banning is back in the news (with Florida legislation that could make buying some books a felony), librarians honor a principal who stood up to a challenge, and more in this edition of NewsBites. 

Florida Bills Would Make Banning Books at School Easier and Buying Some Titles Illegal

Legislation has been proposed in Florida that would make challenging books in schools easier and make it a felony to buy books that contain content deemed pornographic under state obscenity statutes, or otherwise not acceptable. The Florida Citizens Alliance, which is pushing the legislation, wants to ban fiction it objects to, including Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes,and even some textbooks, such as Harcourt Publishing’s Modern World History 9th Grade and Pearson’s Essentials of Oceanography, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) is one of the many organizations fighting back as this package of bills, which are currently in committee. The bills “threaten students’ right to comprehensive science education by allowing school boards to alter science teaching standards in response to religiously-motivated curriculum challenges,” compel schools to offer Bible studies courses, violate federal legal standards, and paralyze educators from being able to make decisions, according to the NCAC.

Resolution in NJ To Stop Teaching Huck Finn

Two New Jersey Assembly members have introduced a resolution for the state’s schools to stop teaching Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because of racist language and themes.

“Its depiction of racist attitudes can cause students to feel upset, marginalized, or humiliated and can create an uncomfortable atmosphere in the classroom,” the resolution said. “The inclusion of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the school curriculum in effect requires adolescents to read and discuss a book containing hurtful, oppressive, and highly offensive language directed toward African Americans. The list of required reading in schools should be inclusive and considerate of all students, without content likely to cause students to feel uncomfortable and marginalized.”

Principal Honored for Response to Book Controversy in SC

The South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCACL) awarded Sherry Eppelsheimer, principal of Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, SC, the organization’s Intellectual Freedom Award for her support of students' freedom to read. Her nomination was largely based on her response to a public outcry and debate about a summer reading list that included Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give and Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely's All American Boys, according to the SCACL website.

The controversy ensued last summer when the president of the Charleston-area Fraternal Order of Police chapter said the books, which were among the choices for the school’s summer reading, were “almost an indoctrination of distrust of police.” Eppelsheimer publicly defended the selection of the titles and kept them on the list.

The group reached out to the authors and posted videos of them thanking Eppelsheimer for her work on behalf of her students.

“We appreciate you for laying it on the line for our children,” Reynolds said. We will always respect you for that.”

Mo Willems named Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced that author and illustrator Mo Willems will serve as its first Education Artist-in-Residence . During the two-year residency, the Knuffle Bunny creator and the Kennedy Center will develop new works for children and their families and “curate collaborative experiences across artistic genres that spark creativity and invite hands-on, multigenerational audience engagement; and consult with the Center’s Education division, which serves students, adults, and communities nationwide.”

Woodson and Forman to Keynote LitUp Festival

High schooler Emery Uhlig and the Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence, MO, recently announced the full program for their second annual LitUp Festival. The literary and arts festival for teens, which was conceived by Uhlig, who organized the inaugural event last year with the help of library staff, will be held on May 4, and the lineup of speakers and sessions includes big names in children's and YA publishing.

National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming and more award-winning  children's, middle grade, and YA titles, and YA author Gayle Forman, who is best known for If I Stay, will be the keynote speakers. There will be author sessions with Adib Khorram (Darius the Great is Not Okay), Sophie Houser and Andy Gonzales (co-authors of Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done), and graphic novelist Katie Green (Lighter Than My Shadow), among others. There will also be workshops on fiction and nonfiction writer and graphic art, as well as a poetry slam session.

Carle Museum Names Honorees

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art today announced its 2019 Carle Honors Honorees . The awards celebrate individuals, an organization, and an institution for creative vision and long-term dedication to the world of picture books. The awards will be presented at a September gala event hosted by Caldecott-honor artist and author Grace Lin (pictured) and Little, Brown Books for Young Children editor-in-chief Alvina Ling.

The honors are given in four categories: Artist, for lifelong innovation in the field; Angel, an individual whose generous resources are crucial to making illustrated children’s book art exhibitions, education programs, and related projects a reality; Mentor, an editor, designer, or educator who champions the art form; and Bridge, an individual or organization that has shown inspired ways to bring the art of the picture book to larger audiences through work in other fields.

The honorees are:

Artist: Melissa Sweet, illustrator of Caldecott Honors books The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus and A River of Words: William Carlos Williams;

Mentor: David Saylor, Scholastic Trade Publishing Group vice president and creative director;

Angel: REFORMA, The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking; and

Bridge: the Chihiro Art Museum in Tokyo.

Book Sparks New York Sisters Successful Campaign

Sisters Sarah and Liliana Johnson were inspired to act after reading Neema’s Reason to Smile, written by Patricia Newman and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. The picture book about a young Kenyan girl who dreams of going to school pushes readers to think about access to education around the world and global citizenship. The Johnson sisters, ages 10 and 6, from the Bayport-Bluepoint, NY, school district, were moved by the message and set up a meeting with their principal to discuss a plan to help.

The principal was so impressed, she arranged for the two to speak to the entire school at an assembly. Sarah and Liliana told their peers about Reasons2Smile—a nonprofit organization with a mission to help provide educational opportunities to children at the Jambo Jipya children’s home and school in Kenya—and ended up raising $400 for the cause by selling bracelets and other items with friends during lunch.

It wasn’t just a kid lit sparked charitable endeavor, according to Donna Rosenblum, supervisor of the Board of Cooperative Educational Services of Nassau County School Library System. The girls’ campaign is a model of project-based learning that integrated several curriculum areas, including goal-setting, character education, a persuasive speech, and math skills, Rosenblum said.

Library of Congress Adds More Music

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden inducted 25 new recordings into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress (LOC) for their cultural, historic, and aesthetic importance to the nation’s recorded sound heritage.

The selections included Victor Military Band’s 1914 rendition of “Memphis Blues”; Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher” from 1931; Benjamin Britten’s 1953 album “War Requiem”; Lefty Frizzell’s 1959 single “Long Black Veil”; folk singer Ola Belle Reed’s self-titled album, released in 1973; the boxed set of educational children’s program “Schoolhouse Rock!”; Sylvester’s 1978 disco single, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”; Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1978 song “September”; and Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 debut solo album “She’s So Unusual.”

The new recordings to the National Recording Registry bring the total number of titles on the registry to 525, a small part of the Library’s vast recorded-sound collection of nearly three million items.

Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board, is tasked with annually selecting 25 titles that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” and are at least 10 years old. More information on the National Recording Registry can be found at

LOC Digitizes Carrie Chapman Catt Papers

The Library of Congress also digitized the papers of suffragist and political strategist Carrie Chapman Catt, including her time as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and made them available online for the first time. The approximately 9,500 items are primarily from 1890 to 1920 when Catt helped lead the fight for a federal suffrage amendment.

Autism Welcome Here Grants Awarded

Oceanside Public Library in Oceanside, CA, and the Evelyn Hanshaw Middle School Library in Modesto, CA, are the recipients of this year’s “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More” grants, sponsored by Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected . The Oceanside Public Library will receive $4000 for their project “Autism-Friendly Lending Library and Family Events” and the Evelyn Hanshaw Middle School Library will receive $1000 for their “Team Titans Club,” in which students with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder will meet during lunch periods every other week for a program led by the teacher librarian and special education teacher.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to 6000+ annual reviews of books, databases, and more

As low as $12/month