NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — A school board in southwestern Idaho has permanently banned 22 popular books from the district's libraries, including Margaret Atwood's “The Handmaid's Tale” and Khaled Hosseini's “Kite Runner.”
The Nampa School Board made the vote on Monday, the Idaho Press reported, after the books were brought to the attention of the district over accusations that they contain “pornography.” But some of the books are rated as having little or no sexual content by Common Sense Media, an organization that provides age-based ratings for books, movies and video games.
For instance, “The 57 Bus,” written by Dashka Slater, is described by Common Sense Media as having mention of teen pregnancy but “no sexually descriptive scenes.” Other books, like “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 that book challenges and bans are increasing across the country, and over the past year have reached levels not seen in decades.
Some Republican-led state legislatures have also increasingly targeted libraries. The Idaho House of Representatives earlier this year passed a bill that would have penalized librarians for distributing allegedly 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 that was underway by district committees that included parents and staffers. The books had already been pulled from library shelves temporarily, until the review was complete, district officials said.
Still, the 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 with ‘forever’ when a process hasn’t been completed to actually analyze and look through things,” Simpson said.
But board member Tracey Pearson said it was too risky to wait for the review process to finish.
“I think it’s too long of a process and to have lifetime trauma to a child that does not need to be maybe experimenting (with) something they’ve read … it’s just very destructive and scary,” Pearson said.