The retired books of Blue Valley

A teacher and librarian reflect on the various books taken out of the school curriculum

Alex Cowdrey, Writer

Last week was the 2021 “Banned Books Week.” Books such as “Tom Sawyer,” “Of Mice and Men,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Lords of Discipline” are retired from being taught within Blue Valley classrooms. 

ELA teacher Valerie Golden said she understands why the books were chosen because of the language within them. 

“[The N-word is used] which is inflammatory, hurtful and vulgar language,” Golden said.  

Although Golden said she disagrees with the language used in some of these books, she also said they have a place in literature.

“I hate to see books [that get] taken away [from the] opportunity to teach those books and what we can learn from those books,” Golden said. 

Aside from that note, she said she also understands and respects students who are not always comfortable reading and discussing these novels in the classroom.

Along with Golden, librarian Craig Odle described the process of deciding whether or not books should not be taught in school.

“What we do is we look and we say ‘is this good literary material?” Odle said. “‘Does it add something to our patrons?’’

Odle explained how a book could potentially be challenged in the future, and how they might prevent it earlier. 

“We look at if a book is anywhere near the line, if it might be controversial, [or] if it might have some material that some may find offensive,” Odle said. 

Odle said it comes down to a decision based on guidelines put in place by the school district. 

“We take a closer look at it, and make a decision if the content is appropriate and if it meets the board of education guidelines,” Odle said.

Digital illustration of a stack. of novels. (Sabrina San Agustin)