School District Pulls 29 Books, Including 'Handmaid's Tale,' From Libraries

A Kansas school district has removed almost 30 books from circulation in school libraries.

Julie Cannizzo, the assistant superintendent for academic affairs for Goddard Public Schools, sent an email to principals and librarians with the list of 29 books last week, KMUW reported.

In the email, Cannizzo said the district is assembling a committee to "rate the content of the books on the list" and to review the selection process.

"At this time, the district is not in a position to know if the books contained on this list meet our educational goals or not," Cannizzo wrote. "Additionally, we need to gain a better understanding of the processes utilized to select books for our school libraries."

She asked for the books on the list to not be checked out "while we are in the process of gathering more information."

The list includes several acclaimed novels, including Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and its sequel, The Testaments, and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye.

Organizers arrange copies of Margaret Atwood's book
Organizers arrange copies of Margaret Atwood's book "The Handmaid's Tale" during the Interactive "The Handmaid's Tale" Art Installation Opening at The High Line on April 26, 2017 in New York City. J. Countess/Getty Images

Others in the list include The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fences by August Wilson and a book examining how the Ku Klux Klan took root in the U.S.

Cannizzo told KMUW that a parent objected to language he found offensive in The Hate U Give, a 2017 young adult novel about the aftermath of the police killing of a Black teenager.

That parent later submitted a list of books that district officials agreed stop from being checked out and conduct a review. "We're not banning these books or anything like that as a district," Cannizzo said. "It was just brought to our attention that a list of books may have content that's unsuitable for children."

Cannizzo said she plans to meet with school librarians this week. A policy adopted by the Goddard school district in 2016 details how complaints about textbooks, library books or instructional materials are handled.

"Challenged materials shall not be removed from use during the review period," according to the policy.

Goddard's removal of the books comes after a Texas state lawmaker launched a bid to investigate books that deal with topics including race and gender in public schools.

Rep. Matt Krause provided school officials with a 16-page list of about 850 books covering topics including race, gender and sexuality, and asked them to provide information of how many copies of the books they possess, where the books are located, and how much they were bought for.