Fact Check: Star Wars' Mark Hamill Shares Florida 'Banned Book List'

There is a big debate going on in America over what learning material is appropriate for children in schools. Increasingly, parents are taking the opportunity to have a say on what their children are allowed to read in educational settings.

Some parents are seeking to ban certain books from schools that contain what they argue are inappropriate discussions on or references to race, sexuality, and gender. Others defend the content as necessary to the full education of a child.

Recently, an illustrated adaptation of Anne Frank's diary came under review in a Texas school district to see if it meets the new standards set by trustees after it was "challenged" by a concerned local stakeholder.

On Twitter, Star Wars' Mark Hamill shared an image suggesting a number of classic books were facing a broader ban in Florida.

Star Wars' Mark Hamill Banned Book List
Star Wars' Mark Hamill tweeted a picture this week of a "Banned book list", including classics like Lord of the Rings and To Kill A Mockingbird, claimed to have been "banned" in Florida. In this combination image, Hamill (Left) at the Premiere of Disney's "Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker" on December 16, 2019 in Hollywood, California, A stock image of a child in a library (Right) and Anne Frank (Inset). Getty/annefrank.org

The Claim

A tweet sent by Mark Hamill on August 22, 2022, shows a list of books that are supposedly "banned" in Florida. The tweet had received more than 187,000 engagements at the time of writing.

Text within the image states "Florida's Anti-Woke banned book list. A couple of them make sense considering republicans should be terrified their constituents might read '1984.'"

Hamill tweeted alongside the image "This also works nicely as a Recommended Reading List."

The Facts

Conservative leaders in Florida (and across the U.S.) have sought to give parents greater control over what books or material their children are taught in schools.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been a flag bearer of this movement. In March 2022, DeSantis signed HB 1467, which will allow "parents to make decisions about what materials their children are exposed to in school."

This led to a wave of reviews that saw schools banning dozens of books from their libraries.

However, the suggestion that Florida has banned established classics like 1984, Lord of the Rings, and To Kill A Mockingbird is not true, nor is the implication that the ban affects all citizens.

The image in Hamill's tweet does not clearly state whether the list of "banned" books is referring to a state-wide ban or the conversation around school library reviews.

In April 2022, Miami New Times published a list of books that have been "banned" in Florida's school districts.

These include some of the books which appear in the list shared by Hamill, namely: Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, Alex Gino's George, Judy Blume's Forever, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give.

It's worthwhile pointing out that these aren't banned in the broadest sense of the word, just that the books won't be available in certain school libraries in Florida.

However, while Florida's governor has given more powers to parents to determine which books may be taught in public schools, there is not a state-wide "banned book list" for school libraries or elsewhere.

We have found no evidence that the books on the list (excluding those mentioned) have been pulled from Florida school libraries or otherwise censored in the state.

In a statement to Snopes, a DeSantis spokesman said that some of the books in the list are "specifically mentioned in Florida's Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards," although he doesn't specify which.

So, while some of the books in the list are not being taught or lent out in some school districts in Florida, they are not being banned across the state, as one may infer from the tweet, nor are the book bans uniform across all Florida schools.

Some of the books in the list were pulled from school libraries in other states too. In November 2021, a Kansas school district removed 30 books from its district school libraries, including The Hate U Give.

Furthermore, while some books on the list shared on Twitter aren't prohibited in Florida schools, they have faced challenges in the past. The Harry Potter series topped an aggregated list charting the most challenged between 2000-2009. The stories faced calls for censorship from Christian religious leaders who condemned the books as satanic.

The Ruling

False

False.

There is no "Anti-Woke banned book list" in Florida. The image in Hamill's tweet contains a mixture of missing context, misleading and false information. While some of the books in this list are not held in some Florida school libraries, the restriction is not state-wide across all schools, and neither does it affect residents who want to buy the books. Many of the books are not banned in schools or otherwise.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek's Fact Check team