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Editorial: There's a better way than banning books | Editorial

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Richmond Times Dispatch

At the end of April, Gov. Glenn Youngkin and a bipartisan group of legislators met at the Library of Virginia to sign one of the most important bills of the 2022 session.

The Virginia Literacy Act is intended to enhance reading resources and student achievement in grades K-3 through more professionals, programs, and other services.

“As parents, educators, and as a community, the most important thing we can do is help our children learn to read,” Youngkin said in a statement.

While Richmond legislators agree on why children need to read books, each region of the state has different rules about what kinds of books students should read, especially as they grow up. Opinions are divided as to whether it should be handed over. Month-long battles over censored titles are a waste of time. There are better ways than “banning books”.

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In early May, The Times-Dispatch published a data-driven article finding that 23 school districts in Virginia had removed books in two years. RTD’s analysis found the most challenging book to be Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir, an “autobiographical graphic novel by a nonbinary and asexual author.”

Within weeks of that article’s publication, protests against “gender queerness” accelerated in Virginia Beach, both in public and private capacity. The book was removed from the local school library. Rep. Tim Anderson and Former U.S. Rep. Tommy Altman Also Stop Sale of Children’s “Gender Queer” and Sarah J. Maas’ “Court of Fog and Fury” Without Parental Consent in Bookstores filed a lawsuit to

“Minors cannot step into an R-rated movie in a cinema without parental consent. [and] Anderson said in the WVEC-TV report that children should not access extremely sexual content without parental consent. He added that the purpose of the lawsuit was not to “ban the book,” but rather to support parental choice.

Reason magazine countered in a recent “Banned Books Issue” by calling the lawsuit “a bizarre extension of school library book bans to the private sector, clearly unconstitutional, politically motivated and unconstitutional.” Ultimately it is meaningless.”

“Other than the fact that both books deal with sex, the books have little in common,” claimed the piece. Then, as we all know, there aren’t just two books that do.”

On August 30, the Virginia Beach Circuit Court will decide whether outdated and unclear portions of the Virginia Code apply. As the American Civil Liberties Union in Virginia explained in his late June:

“Under the statute, courts have the power to temporarily block all sales and distribution of books anywhere in Virginia on the mere discovery of ‘possible obscenity.’ If a court ultimately determines that the book is indecent, anyone who sells or rents it in Virginia could face criminal prosecution, regardless of whether they had prior knowledge of the obscene proceedings. There is. Every independent bookstore and other distributor in Virginia will be affected without even knowing that books are so controversial.”

There’s a better way. Right by the State Capitol, the Richmond Public Library connects patrons with “bookologists.” This is a service where staff connects readers of all ages with new favorites.

Families can fill out the form with their child’s age, favorite author or book, and “perfect book” in 3-5 words. Bookologists use that feedback to formulate choices so kids can pick up books at their local library.

A flyer at RPL’s head office says, “Whether you’re stuck in a rut, trying to read outside your comfort zone, or just looking for great suggestions, The Bookologist can help.” It is written.

No matter where you live in the state, the Virginia Readers’ Choice Program is also a valuable resource for reading lists that foster a love of reading.

For over 40 years, thousands of students from hundreds of different schools have met each year to vote for their favorite school. The program is a partnership involving the Virginia State Literacy Society, Virginia Association of School Libraries, Virginia Library Association, and Virginia Youth Services Libraries.

The criteria for the book are simple. The title is “recognised as notable in the field of children/young adult literature”, “published within the three years of the ballot in which it appears”, and “suitable to the level for which it is nominated”. There must be

Participation conditions are simple. Students must be “exposed to at least four of her nominated books in their entirety at each level” either by reading on their own or reading aloud with the help of another person. They can vote through public libraries, school libraries, or classrooms, with a “responsible adult” overseeing the process.

Its purpose is very clear as outlined by VSLA. As a way to introduce reading for fun and to honor your favorite books and their authors. “

Virginians should respect the opinion of neighbors who decide that certain books are not appropriate for their children to read. But instead of relying on outdated and obscure laws that build more barriers than bridges, let’s elevate the resources that guide students toward a love of reading in ways that keep them in the way they choose.

Chris Gentilviso is Opinion Editor. Please contact him: