A year ago, I posted about the book banning in neighboring Llano County. Since then, a group of Llano library patrons and friends challenged the ban. And now there’s good news to report. District court judge Robert Pitman ordered that the banned books be immediately restored to the library shelves and card catalog, pending the October trial on the merits of the case. Here’s a brief Dallas News report of the ruling.
And here are the books some Llano County residents wanted banned, as Judge Pitman remarks, “because they disagree with their political viewpoints and dislike their subject matter.” You’ll be surprised–or maybe you won’t. This is only a fraction of the books banned across Texas, where over 800 books have been banned from school libraries. And from your schools and libraries, too, as this political hysteria fans out across the country.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson;
They Called Themselves the K.K.K: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti;
Spinning by Tillie Walden;
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak;
It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health by Robie Harris;
My Butt is So Noisy!, I Broke My Butt!, and I Need a New Butt! by Dawn McMillan;
Larry the Farting Leprechaun, Gary the Goose and His Gas on the Loose, Freddie the Farting Snowman, and Harvey the Heart Has Too Many Farts by Jane Bexley;
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings;
Shine by Lauren Myracle;
Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle;
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero; and
Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark.
Leila Green Little, the lead plaintiff in the Llano County case, is a mom. When these books were back on the library shelf, she checked out four of them, took them home, and read three (My Butt is So Noisy, Freddie the Farting Snowman, and In The Night Kitchen) to her young children. (Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, was for her.) “We got to have a really great conversation about censorship,” Leila told me, “and why some words and ideas are offensive to some people, and what makes public libraries special.” Kudos to her for using these books (and this sad situation) to help her children understand why books matter and why they must be defended. Thanks also to the rest of the plaintiffs in this case and others everywhere. Your courage is inspiring.
And one last thing. When we talk about the threat of book banning, we normally focus on the way it limits readers’ access to ideas. But book bans can have an even more dangerous and insidious effect–a chilling effect–on writers and publishers. Writing a book takes a huge amount of time and creative energy. Publishing a book requires skilled people, time, and money. Authors and publishers (especially publishers) may be reluctant to invest in a project that’s going to be kept off library shelves. At a recent count, there are some 16,000 public and 95,000 school libraries. That’s a big hunk of market share to lose, and publishers are increasingly watchful of their bottom lines.
Here’s the judge’s ruling (26 pg pdf) for those of you who like to dig in the weeds: Pitman Order re Llano Case
UPDATE 6/3/23. This case will be heard at the Fifth Circuit on 6/7/23.
- For a full coverage of all the developments in this case, plus commentaries and related web pages, see this comprehensive website. It’s an excellent historical record for those who are following this case. Thanks to Leila Green Little for this valuable compilation.