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Nampa School District book ban inspires giveaway campaign

A window with the words Rediscovered Books and a book shaped like a ship on water
Rediscovered Books

The Treasure Valley literary community is trying to combat a decision by the Nampa School Board last week to ban more than 20 books from its shelves over their sexual content.

In the 3-2 vote, trustees targeted newer titles, like “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins, a novel chronicling a young woman’s addiction to drugs, or Toni Morrison’s debut novel, “The Bluest Eye.”

“I felt just an extraordinary disappointment that a group that’s guiding education has missed one of the central tenets of education, which is to grow the mind in its experience and understanding,” said Laura DeLaney, co-owner of Rediscovered Books.

In response, the store solicited donations to buy 500 copies of books banned by the school district and hand them out to the Nampa community. In one week, it raised enough money to cover the cost of more than 1,250 copies.

DeLaney said they had to stop taking donations because they wouldn’t be able to physically transport all the books to Nampa.

She acknowledges these books sometimes have strong descriptions of sexual activity.

“But it is a question of how these descriptions are connected to a story, how they resonate with the people who are reading them and the context within which they are read,” DeLaney said.

Limiting access to these titles, in her mind, is about controlling access to information about the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups who see themselves reflected in them.

Banning them doesn’t protect people from understanding complex issues, DeLaney said.

“It only harms you if you can’t engage with the books.”

Rediscovered Books will prioritize handing out the books to students and staff members of the Nampa School District. Each person with a school I.D. can choose up to three titles.

But those who live in Nampa can also receive one book, DeLaney said.

The giveaway will take place from 6-8 p.m. at the Flying M Coffee Garage on June 8.

A few days later, the Nampa Banned Book Fan Club will host a “read in” protest at the district’s offices during a school board meeting June 13.

Rediscovered Books and The Cabin also partnered together to create the Read Freely Project last year to distribute stories by and about marginalized groups — some of which are banned — through volunteers who must agree to physically hand out copies to people. The goal, DeLaney said, is to foster conversations in the community and create connections among people.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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