16 ‘inappropriate’ books to be reviewed by Polk County school officials

Polk County Public Schools is conducting a review of 16 library books whose content has been formally challenged.

The group County Citizens Defending Freedom said in a statement posted on its website that the books "imprint obscene, violent, pornographic, drug abuse, sexual abuse and suicide-related content upon the minds of minor students."

CCDF-USA also alleges the books available in Polk County Public School Libraries may violate Florida’s decency and child protection statutes.

The superintendent of schools said, due to legal implications, he ordered the books be temporarily pulled from library shelves to allow time for the review.

"In this particular case, for instance, people have come in and suggested whoever put this book on the shelf, whoever unwrapped it, whoever checked it out to a child could be criminally liable," explained Wes Bridges, general counsel for the Polk County School Board. "So we want to be very, very careful to make sure our employees and staff are not exposed to that kind of liability."

Two committees of educators, students, advocates, medical professionals and others will now review the books and make recommendations to the school board. 

The challenge is based on specific passages within each book, but the committee is tasked with reviewing the books in their entirety to determine the overall purpose, literary merit, and age appropriateness. 

"I’m hoping to see our libraries have the best reading material on a wide variety of subjects so that students can learn and grow in a safe and healthy environment," a committee member said.

Opponents say the implications of the review process are harmful.

"I think it’s a dangerous trend and a slippery slope" Craig McKee said.

The following books have been identified for review:

  1. "Almost Perfect" by Brian Katcher
  2. "Beloved" by Toni Morrison
  3. "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison
  4. "Drama" by Raina Telgemeier
  5. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Foer
  6. "George" by Alex Gino
  7. "I am Jazz" by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings
  8. "It’s Perfectly Normal" by Robbie Harris
  9. "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini
  10. "More Happy Than Not" by Adam Silvera
  11. "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult
  12. "Real Live Boyfriends" by E. Lockhart
  13. "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher
  14. "Tricks" by Ellen Hopkins
  15. "Two Boys Kissing" by David Levithan
  16. "The Vincent Boys" by Abbi Glines

The committee will meet again on March 10 to discuss and vote on one of the books.