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Downtown Boise bookstore displays books Nampa school board ‘doesn’t want you to read’

Idaho Statesman logo Idaho Statesman 5/12/2022 Becca Savransky, The Idaho Statesman

Toward the back of the Rediscovered Books store in Boise, a new display now exists: “Books the Nampa School Board Doesn’t Want You to Read.”

The display was put together after the Nampa school board voted earlier this week to remove about two dozen books from the school’s libraries that they said included sexual content. The board made the decision before the district could complete its review process of the 23 challenged books and make recommendations.

Rebecca Crosswhite, store manager and children’s specialist at Rediscovered Books Boise store, said the leadership of the stores — which includes another Rediscovered Books in Caldwell and Once and Future Books in Boise — discussed the school board’s decision and decided to take action.

“We decided we needed to make sure that people know that they can still get these books, and that they’re important and they matter,” she told the Idaho Statesman.

The store put all of the books on the list that they had in stock in a display and ordered the others they didn’t have. They plan to have multiple copies of the books at the Boise and Caldwell stores.

The display now has more than 10 books including “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “The 57 Bus” by Dashka Slater.

Crosswhite said the board’s decision to remove the books sends the message that the school board is taking away parental control and choice.

“Just because they don’t want their children to read this doesn’t mean that they can tell me that my child can’t read this,” she said.

Crosswhite said she believes it’s important that kids are able to see themselves in books, and read about other peoples’ experiences, which helps kids gain empathy “about people that they’re going to encounter in life.”

Book challenges have been happening across the country. The American Library Association in an April press release said library staff had faced an “unprecedented number of attempts to ban books.” The organization said the books that were most targeted were those about Black or LGBTQIA people.

The Idaho Legislature also raised concerns last session about “harmful” materials in libraries, and plan to create working groups to study the issue.

Rediscovered Books last year started a program, called “The Read Freely Project,” that aims to “connect people” and “break down barriers” through books.

For the project, volunteers can sign up to hand out copies of books to people. Crosswhite said the store chooses books from a diverse set of viewpoints, including those that tell stories of people of color and LGBTQ people.

The bookstore has also had similar displays to the Nampa one in the past. Recently, Rediscovered Books put up a display on the books U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, “doesn’t want you to read.”

The bookstore managers plan to continue to make books accessible — even if they are banned in other places.

“We will just keep adding to it,” Crosswhite said. “Because I have a feeling that this is not the end.”

Becca Savransky covers education for the Idaho Statesman in partnership with Report for America. The position is partly funded through community support. Click here to donate.

©2022 The Idaho Statesman. Visit idahostatesman.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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