THE POPULARITY PAPERS Stays in District Libraries

Last week, CBLDF and the Kids’ Right to Read Project defended two books in the Prosser, Washington, school district: A Child Called “It” and The Popularity Papers. At the time of reporting, the review board had elected to retain A Child Called “It” but the fate of The Popularity Papers was unknown. CBLDF is pleased to report that the review board elected to retain The Popularity Papers. A high school social studies teacher in the district had filed a complaint against both books.

The Popularity Papers, by Amy Ignatow, is an award-winning series aimed at fourth through sixth graders that follows the friendship of two girls as they navigate junior high school. The series deals with bullying and the social hierarchy of teens. The Popularity Papers is already under restricted access and only available to fifth graders in the district. Objections were raised to the book because one of the main characters has two fathers. The Tri-City Herald reported on the decision, disclosing some of the complainant’s motivation:

Rich Korb, the Prosser High School social studies teacher who filed the complaint against the book, told the committee the book should be removed because it isn’t age appropriate, promotes a political issue and is a blow against the community’s morals.

“We have clouded our academic purpose for political agendas,” he told committee members.

Committee members didn’t agree with Korb. From the Tri-City Herald:

A few committee members said they personally didn’t agree with the idea of two gay men or women raising a child, but did not think the book should be removed.

“For us to pass judgment on this book is to pass judgment on those families,” said Deanna Flores, principal at Housel Middle School.

Some committee members said they didn’t detect a political agenda behind the book. Most said the book was humorous and a good way to help girls, specifically those in the fifth and sixth grades, contend with the challenges of growing up.

You can read the letter that KRRP and CBLDF sent to the Prosser School District here. The retention of both A Child Called “It” and The Popularity Papers is a victory for both the students’ right to read and for free speech!

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