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Jacksonville bookstore adds 'Books Recently Banned in Duval County' display

The new section includes the definition of "censored" and pamphlets including contact information for Duval County Public Schools leadership and board members.

DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. — A Jacksonville bookstore is taking a stand against Florida book bans in schools, with a new “Books Recently Banned in Duval County” display. Chamblin Bookmine and Chamblin Uptown are using the sections to raise awareness about the hundreds of books banned in schools across the state.

Hanging from the shelves in Chamblin Bookmine in front of the banned books display: the definition of “censored.” Manager Abby Bell said that’s what Duval County Public Schools are doing by removing books from teachers classrooms to review or ban.

“There are a lot of kids that don’t have access to libraries or are financially unable to purchase their own books,” Bell said, “and so these things being taken away is a really big deal and something that we’re very passionate about.”

Chamblin Uptown Manager Cari Hamoui said it’s concerning that an overwhelming majority of the books being pulled for review are about minorities and children of color.

“When we read books, we need to have representation,” Hamoui said. “A lot of kids are not readers and they don’t really want to read, but if they see someone who looks like themselves, that’ll make them pick up the book.”

When asked about the removal of books about minority populations, Duval County Public Schools Director of Strategic Communication Laureen Ricks told First Coast News: “we have a wide range of diverse titles including books about African American history, African American literature, and African American leaders. In fact, the State of Florida recently recognized our school district as an “Exemplary School District” for teaching African American History.”

Ricks also said: “Now and in all phases of this process, there should not be a case when a classroom doesn’t have any books. At the very least, students should have access to the B.E.S.T. titles with a portion of these titles purchased for each K-5 classroom, state approved civics literacy books, Benchmark Advance guided reading books, Reader’s Theatre, decodables (K-2), class novels; and blended learning platforms that include Raz Kids (K-2) Achieve 3000, Freckle, and Imagine Learning. […] Our media specialists are working around the clock to review books, ensure compliance with Florida legislation, and get books back into media centers and classroom libraries and available to students.”

Chamblin’s display includes pamphlets with information about how to contact state legislators, Duval County school officials and school board members.

“Censorship in general is dangerous because people deserve the right to tell their stories,” Bell said. “When you’re taking those stories away, you’re removing pretty much their existence, and that’s not okay, and that’s not something that we believe in.”

Duval County Public Schools are reviewing books available to students in classrooms in order to comply with Florida legislation. While media specialists review the books, teachers can have books from the Florida Department of Education's Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking list. 

See a list of Duval County Public Schools past reconsidered books here.

See a list of titles approved by the Florida Department of Education for use in classrooms.

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