District Seeks Community Members to Assist in Book Review Process

The Canby School District is seeking parents and community members to participate in a committee reviewing 36 books that were pulled off library shelves earlier this year in response to formal requests for reconsideration by two local parents.

“For a request like this, we follow our procedure for reconsideration,” Communications Director Kristen Wohlers said in an email to district community members Thursday. “The books are not ‘banned.’

“The district has agreed to hold the requested books out of circulation until they can be reviewed by a committee. And that’s where you come in! We would like to begin the review process as soon as possible.”

District officials said it hopes to build review committees that “represent our district community,” and that not all interested parties may be able to participate due to limited space.

Each committee member will be asked to read four of the 36 titles and complete a rubric for each one. The review will take place over the course of a full-day meeting from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 23, or Wednesday, May 24.

Those interested in participating should fill out the district’s online form by Friday, April 28.

The district’s decision to pull the 36 titles — based on a somewhat ambiguous policy that was designed to address concerns about curricula and mandatory instructional materials, not library books — has drawn criticism from students, parents, former educators and anti-censorship groups.

Many of the titles frequently appear on lists of the most banned books in school libraries across the country. Most of them are about or written by Black, Latino, LGBTQ or other similarly underrepresented authors. All but six of the authors on the list are women.

In almost every case, the two parents noted that they had not fully read the materials they were asking to be reconsidered, saying they had reviewed only portions of them or relied on online reviews.

Around 50 students participated in a demonstration at Canby High School in March, carrying signs such as “Educate Not Indoctrinate” and “I Have the Right to Read,” and the books’ removal has been widely covered in regional and statewide media.

And, in a Canby School Board meeting earlier this month, students, parents and community members decried the list of titles and its apparent targeting of minority voices and diverse perspectives.

They also questioned the move to pull the books and the reasoning for it, given that school library policies already give broad latitude to parents in restricting their own children from checking out certain titles.

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