Clay County schools reach decisions on more parent-challenged library books

Zoey Fields

Five library books challenged by parents in the Clay County District School system have been reviewed by school faculty, Superintendent David Broskie and a council of parents to determine their fate in school libraries.
The Clay County school district created councils comprised of faculty and parents who review challenged books and vote on library status.Photo byClay County District Schools

The five books, “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher, “The Girl from the Sea” by Molly Knox Ostertag, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, “Beetle & the Hollowbones” by Aliza Layne and “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi, were challenged by parents within the Clay County school district under a policy approved by school board members in August 2022.

Click here to read NewsBreak’s coverage about the adopted school board policy regarding library materials.

None of the above-challenged books have been totally removed from school libraries. Each book, however, was limited to either the high school level or junior high and high school levels — meaning the materials will be entirely removed from all Clay County elementary schools.

Here are descriptions of each book, their library status decisions and direct links to reader summaries and reviews.

  • “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher (high school level only)

A young-adult fictional story follows high schooler, Clay Jensen, who receives a package from his classmate and crush, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide two weeks earlier. The package contains cassette tapes recorded by Hannah, outlining her pain and reasons for her suicide. Clay is told, if he listens to each tape, he will understand why Hannah did what she did. Click here for reviews and summaries.

  • “The Girl from the Sea” by Molly Knox Ostertag (high school level only)

A young-adult fantasy graphic novel follows 15-year-old Morgan who is eager to leave her small island town because she does not feel understood. Morgan feels she has a lot of secrets, her biggest one being her attraction to other women. The story takes a turn when Morgan is saved from drowning by another girl and, suddenly, life on the island does not seem as unbearable anymore. Click here for reviews and summaries.

  • “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas (junior high and high school levels)

A young-adult realistic fiction story follows 16-year-old Starr Carter who lives in a poor neighborhood but attends a suburban prep school. Starr becomes witness to the death of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer and she is the only one who can answer to what happened that night. The story was based on the Black Lives Matter movement as Starr navigates racism, the media and law enforcement all while mourning her friend. Click here for reviews and summaries.

  • “Beetle & the Hollowbones” by Aliza Layne (junior high and high school levels)

A fictional graphic novel that follows a young goblin who is trying to save her best friend from a haunted mall. The story takes place in a world where some people are granted with magical powers and others have their spirits trapped in the mall for all of eternity. Two girls, Kat and Beetle, must work together to save a friend from being trapped in the mall. Click here for reviews and summaries.

  • “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi (high school level only)

A non-fiction novel with comic-style images tells the story of Satrapi’s life in Tehran, Iran, from ages 6 to 14. The story shows what it was like to live through Shah's regime, the Islamic Revolution and the effects of the war with Iraq. Click here for reviews and summaries.

A District Curriculum Council, composed of school district faculty and parents, was assigned to read each book and answer questions regarding the book’s content. Council members then cast anonymous ballots that are delivered to the superintendent for guidance, as he gets the final say in what happens to each book.

The school district keeps a running list on a Google document that allows parents and District Curriculum Council members to see the status of books that have been challenged.

Books labeled as “weeded” means that a book was removed because it was in poor condition or the circulation statistics were poor, Clay County District Schools Media Coordinator Terri Dennis said. “Deselected” means the media specialist decided to remove the title because it does not align with school statute guidelines, she said.

The District Curriculum Council meets at the Teacher In-Service Center at Fleming Island High School, where their meetings and discussions about each book are open to the public. The Clay County school system keeps a running Google Document with important meetings, times and locations. There are currently no upcoming District Curriculum Council meetings listed in the document.

Click here to see Clay County District Schools' upcoming meeting document.

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Accredited journalist with experience covering a wide range of stories consisting of breaking news, city and county government, crime and courts, feature stories and local interest. Facebook Bulletin writer, reporter; The Learning Curve. Twitter: @zoeyfields0

Jacksonville, FL

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