NAMPA (AP) – A school board in southwestern Idaho has permanently banned 22 popular books from district libraries, including Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Khaled Hosseini’s “Kite Runner.”
The Nampa School Board conducted the vote Monday, Idaho Press reported, after the books were brought to the district’s attention because of allegations that they contain “pornography.” However, some of the books are rated as having little or no sexual content by Common Sense Media, an organization that provides age-based reviews of books, movies, and video games.
For example, “The 57 Bus,” written by Dashka Slater, is described by Common Sense Media as a mention of teenage pregnancy, but “no sexually descriptive scenes.” Other books, such as “Leah on the Offbeat,” by Becky Albertalli, include LGBTQ + characters.
Officials at the American Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship and other organizations say book challenges and bans are on the rise across the country, and over the past year they have reached levels not seen in decades.
Some Republican-led state legislators have also increasingly targeted libraries. The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this year that would have punished librarians for distributing alleged pornographic material to children, but the legislation later died in the Senate.
In Idaho, the Nampa Board’s 3-2 vote ended a review process underway by district committees that included parents and staff. The books had already been temporarily pulled from library shelves until the review was complete, district officials said.
Still, board members said they would be interested in creating a formal process for reviewing challenged books in the future.
Board member Mandy Simpson voted against banning the books.
“I just have a hard time ‘forever’ when a process has not been completed to actually analyze and see things through,” Simpson said.
But board member Tracey Pearson said it was too risky to wait for the audit process to complete.
“I think it’s too long a process and to have lifelong trauma for a child who does not have to experiment (with) something they have read … it’s just very destructive and scary,” Pearson said.