Banned Books Week is Oct. 1-7

Banned Books Week is Oct. 1-7
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 10:19 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa - Banned Books Week begins October 1. The American Library Association says they encourage people to read books that are being targeted for removal in schools and libraries.

Des Moines Public Library Director Sue Woody says this year’s Banned Books Week celebration is more important than ever.

“For years, Banned Books Week was kind of a ho-hum holiday, there wasn’t really much going on. There weren’t a lot of book bans. But in recent years that has dramatically changed, and there are several, there are hundreds, If not thousands of book challenges going on during the last couple of years,” Woody said.

Senate File 496 was signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds in the last legislative session. The law requires school districts to pull books that depict sex acts.

“They still are available in bookstores, and of course public libraries. And we need to defend that and make sure that they are always available, that these books do not go out of circulation because if they do, they will go away,” Woody said.

Woody says public libraries are safe from book review laws - for now. “Senate File 496 does target school libraries. But, that does not mean that public libraries will not be next,” Woody said.

Woody says the conversation about what kids are reading isn’t what’s most important.

“We have this conversation about what kids are reading, when we really should be talking about can the kids read? Are the kids reading? Because the answer is they can’t. Many of them can’t, especially low income. This is definitely poverty based. That’s where we need to have all this time and this energy,” Woody said.

Moms for Liberty bills themselves as a parental rights group. They advocated for Senate File 496.

Polk County Chapter Chair Jenn Turner says the bill isn’t censorship, it’s about ensuring classroom materials are age appropriate and don’t contain explicit content.

“Books don’t have ratings similar to movies, video games, or music it is hard for parents to know the content that is contained in books. We believe it is the duty of our schools to ensure that they offer our children access to literature that is age-appropriate and does not contain sexually explicit content, particularly descriptions or depictions of sex acts,” Turner said.

As for public libraries, Turner says their focus is public schools and they have not nor do they plan to contest books in public libraries.