Jodi Picoult doubles down against Florida book bans in new op-ed
Author Jodi Picoult is doubling down against Florida restrictions that have resulted in dozens of books being yanked from school shelves — including several of her own.
Ninety-two books were pulled from school shelves in Florida’s Martin County School District last week; 20 of those titles were ones she had written, she said.
“My books were removed because they were, according to the sole parent who made the challenge, ‘adult romance that should not be on school shelves.’ It is worth noting I do not write adult romance. The majority of the books that were targeted do not even have a kiss in them,” Picoult wrote in her opinion piece.
“What they do have, however, are issues like racism, abortion rights, gun control, gay rights, and other topics that encourage kids to think for themselves.”
Also among those stripped from shelves were Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” Judy Blume’s “Forever…,” Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give,” as reported by Treasure Coast’s TC Palm.
Picoult highlighted her book “The Storyteller,” a novel about the Holocaust that “chronicles the growth of anti-Semitism and fascism in Nazi Germany.”
“There was a strange irony that a parent wanted this particular book removed, because it felt a bit like history repeating itself,” she said, pointing to Nazi book burnings.
The author asserted that the Martin County book pulling stemmed from a single parent’s complaint, bypassing any review process for determining whether a book is appropriate for young readers.
Picoult noted that “not all books are right for all age groups, and no one wants porn on a school bookshelf,” affirming that teachers and librarians have long used professional training and input from parents to pick age-appropriate reads.
“Now, Florida has passed very broadly worded laws that limit what books can and cannot be in schools. Teachers who do not obey face penalties … Some activists and parents have taken these laws as free reign to remove whatever books they personally do not deem acceptable,” she wrote.
In an interview with The Washington Post published last week, Picoult denounced the books’ removal as a “shocking breach of freedom of speech and freedom of information.”
“Books bridge divides between people. Book bans create them,” Picoult told the Post.
Last year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation that requires school libraries in the state to seek community input on the materials made available to children.
The books targeted by the recent bans aren’t “salacious or revolutionary,” Picoult wrote this week, but rather expose children to “lives different from their own… which rates compassion and empathy” and “mindsets exactly like their own, which provides representation and validity and a sense of belonging.”
She called out Moms for Liberty, a right-wing parental-rights advocacy nonprofit that has been active in backing laws that limit teachers’ authority over what is taught and accessible in schools.
“Look, I’m a mom. I used to read books before my kids did, to make sure I felt they were emotionally ready for the content… There is absolutely nothing wrong with a parent deciding a certain book is not right for her child. There is a colossal problem with a parent deciding that, therefore, no child should be allowed to read that book,” Picoult wrote in her op-ed.
She ended with the ominous warning that “we’ve seen, historically, what the next chapter looks like when we don’t speak out against book challenges… and that story does not end well.”
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