A children’s book from the Arthur series is facing the possibility of being banned in a school district after a local conservative activist claimed that it can “damage souls”.
Is the Book Inappropriate?
The book in question is entitled “Arthur’s Birthday,” written by Marc Brown and published in 1989. The book is for kids in kindergarten to sixth grade, having themes like fun and adventure.
Believing the book took the adventure too far, one person filed a complaint to a Florida school district regarding the book’s reference to “Spin the Bottle”. This might sound like a game you play at parties, but for some adults, it’s seen as inappropriate for kids.
The filed complaint led to the book being reviewed by the school district. Now, a total of 45 books are being examined, due to different concerns that parents and community members have raised.
It turns out that most of these complaints are from a local conservative activist named Bruce Friedman. He’s been diligently filing complaints left and right, including the Arthur book complaint.
As written by the Daily Beast, the Florida District provided a stack of challenge forms they have received for the month of July. At least eight of these book challenges are from Friedman.
What’s the Big Deal?
The book in question is about Arthur’s birthday falling on the same day as a female classmate’s party. Arthur wants everyone to come to both parties, so he had the idea to combine them. Sounds like a friendly thing to do, right?
In the end, Arthur receives a glass bottle as a birthday present, with the the words “Francine’s Spin the Bottle Game” printed on it. Later when demonstrating the game, Pal kisses Francine when the bottle goes to him.
The complaint arose because there are people who think that this reference to “Spin the Bottle” is just not for kids. They are worried that the book might send the wrong message or introduce children to something they are not ready for.
Protect the Children
On his challenge form, Friedman wrote, “PROTECT CHILDREN!! IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE TO DISCUSS ‘SPIN THE BOTTLE’ WITH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN! THIS BOOK IS FOUND IN ALL/ALMOST ALL [DISTRICT SCHOOLS]!”
Friedman continued to express his thoughts in the form of how “SPIN THE BOTTLE” is “NOT OKAY FOR K-5 KIDS!” and how the book’s content could “DAMAGE SOULS.” He also included images from the book that he felt were not suitable for its intended audience.
What Do Other People Think?
Contrary to Friedman’s opinion, some people believe that the book is all about being inclusive and showing kindness to friends, no matter their gender. They think that banning the book might be absurd.
Among those people is Reagan Miller, from a group called Florida Freedom to Read Project, believes that those who want to ban books are making things more confusing in schools. She said in her interview with the Daily Beast that these complaints are trying to create “chaos in the education system”.
A Long List!
Interestingly, Bruce Friedman has been infamous for raising concerns about books before. He is part of a group called No Left Turn in Education that is concerned about what’s being taught in schools. He also made a list of over 3,600 books he thinks are “concerning.” Now that’s a lot of books!
In a Twitter post by Florida Freedom to Read Project, they provided a screenshot of the list that covers all of the books to be reviewed. Some of the works from famous authors like It by Stpehen King and Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stink-a-Lot by Dav Pilkey.
And just like that, 20 additional titles have been added to the 23/24 list in @oneclayschools.— Florida Freedom to Read Project (@FLFreedomRead) July 17, 2023
One man has filed over 700 challenges in this district of 35K+ students. Of those students, only 3 – yes, 3 – had parental restrictions in the library.https://t.co/smKpfCq5lT https://t.co/Cw7Nu4Pf8Z pic.twitter.com/9YIu7pIzZO
“One man has filed over 700 challenges in this district of 35K+ students. Of those students, only three—yes, three— had parental restrictions in the library,” wrote the Florida Freedom to Read Project.
Pending Oversight Committee Review
The school district is taking all these challenges seriously. They are now processing the books through reviews so that they can make sure that these books are acceptable or not.
For now, “Arthur’s Birthday” is still being looked at, and a committee will decide whether it should be banned or not.
This article was produced by TPR Teaching.
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