The Madison County School Board recently voted to ban nearly two dozen titles from the local high school library.
Less than two miles separate the Madison County High School library and the local public library, but the divide over 21 recently banned school library books—still found at the local library—continues to grow.
On Jan. 12, the Madison County School Board voted to ban nearly two dozen titles from the high school library. According to both The MadRapp Reporter and Bookstr, the books came from a list of novels that Focus on the Family, a national conservative organization, deemed unacceptable. Three titles also popped up on the American Library Association’s 10 Most Challenged Books list between 2019 and 2021.
Multiple authors had more than one of their titles included in the ban. The school did away with three books by Stephen King, a famous horror and suspense writer. Nixed books included It, a story following a group of outcasts who try to stop an evil demon that poses as a child-killing clown; 11/22/63, a tale of a time traveler who tries to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; and Bag of Bones, a novel about an author suffering from writer’s block and delusions after his wife’s sudden death.
King, often a subject of censorship and book banning shenanigans, took to Twitter on Jan. 18 with a call to action, posting: “Hey, kids! It’s your old buddy Steve King telling you that if they ban a book in your school, haul your [expletive] to the nearest bookstore or library ASAP and find out what they don’t want you to read.”
Virginia Del. Nick Freitas—a Republican who represents the Counties of Madison, Orange, and portions of Culpeper—replied to King’s tweet the same day, posting: “I’m not sure Stephen understands how creepy this is,” claiming that King’s titles are “openly pornographic.”
Republicans like Freitas are a driving force behind book bans in Virginia. Earlier this month, a piece of legislation that passed the General Assembly last year went into effect. Republican Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant’s Senate Bill (SB) 656 required parental notification before students encountered instructional material containing sexually explicit subjects.
Parents now have the option to review the instructional material, and if they deem the content inappropriate for their child, they can request that their student receive an alternate assignment.
In the General Assembly this session, Republican lawmakers filed multiple bills aimed toward censoring or banning books.
For example, House Bill (HB) 1448 would require that the Department of Education consult with various unspecified and unelected community members to create a list of model policies for both the selection and removal of books and other media in public school libraries.
In the Senate, Sen. Amanda Chase’s Senate Bill (SB) 1463 would require that a parental advisory label appear on the front of any book deemed to contain sexually explicit content.
While state legislators continue discussing potential bans, there’s plenty of time to see what all the banned book buzz is about. Here are the 21 books recently banned from the Madison County High School Library:
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, including Defy Me, Ignite Me, Restore Me, Shatter Me, Imagine Me, and Unravel Me
- Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- Sula by Toni Morrison
- Love by Toni Morrison
- The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice
- Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
- Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
- Empire of Storms by Sarah Maas
- Bag of Bones by Stephen King
- 11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
- It by Stephen King
- Furyborn by Claire Legrand