The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District’s Library Citizens Advisory Committee voted to recommend removing each of the four books they read last month from varying levels of Mat-Su school libraries.
The 11-member committee recommended removing “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robbie Harris and “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison from all Mat-Su school libraries. The committee recommended the removal of “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold from all middle schools, and recommended removing the graphic novel “Drama” by Raina Telgemeier from elementary schools.
A majority of the committee voted that “The Bluest Eye” and “It’s Perfectly Normal” violated the Alaska Statute regarding the distribution of indecent material to minors.
Nichole Smith was one of nine members who voted with the majority on “It’s Perfectly Normal.”
“I feel like the pictures weren’t scientific as much as they were exhibitionary,” Smith said. “To me, it crossed the line. There is science in there but I also feel like it carried over into pushing different ideals that aren’t necessarily appropriate.”
Melinda Dale was one of just two committee members who voted to keep “It’s Perfectly Normal” in middle and high school libraries.
“I taught human growth and development to 6th graders, 8th graders. This book would probably answer just about every question that any of them would have had,” Dale said. “I think there’s a distinction between indecent material and information.”
The book was in circulation in Mat-Su school libraries for seven years and was only checked out twice by students.
Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” was only used for International Baccalaureate classes at Palmer High School, and copies were not available to students in school libraries. The committee’s recommendations will now go to the Mat-Su school board, which will have the final say over what books are removed from schools.
The committee discussed whether their library book recommendations should extend to school curriculum, and questioned whether books deemed to be obscene but with valid educational value should be kept in a separate section of libraries.
Librarian Katie Clark made a second request to the district administration for a list of who challenged each book that went unanswered.
The committee will read and review four more books before their next meeting on Oct. 12: “Flamer” by Mike Curato, “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini and “Perseplolis: The Story of a Childhood” by Marjane Satrapi. The committee is reviewing a list of 56 challenged books, and plans to read and review at least four per month.