This Florida School District Banned a Book About Banned Books

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Jun 22, 2024

A book about banned books getting banned from school libraries is deeply ironic. But that is what happened to Alan Gratz’s book, “Ban This Book.”

A Florida school district banned the book after a parent involved in Moms for Liberty accused it of depicting sexual conduct.

“Ban This Book” Is Banned

This book talks about a fourth-grader’s quest to bring her favorite book back to the school library after officials had it removed.

Several people sit in large wooden chairs and study at a large library. In the foreground, a large bookcase filled with simple covered books can be seen

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Gratz told The Washington Post that people had challenged “Ban This Book” and some of his other titles in the past, but he couldn’t recall a ban of this scale.

Moms for Liberty Complained About the Book

Last month, a member of Moms for Liberty, a right-wing parents’ rights group, submitted a complaint about the book in February.


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She alleged that the book was “teaching children to be social justice warriors” while depicting sexual conduct.

Why the Book Was a Problem

Jennifer Pippin, the chair of the Indian River, Florida chapter of Moms for Liberty, told The Post that she complained about “Ban This Book” because it referenced other banned books with sexual content.

Pile of Covered Books

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Pippin’s goal for her chapter is to have titles with “sexually explicit content” removed from schools.

Pippin Says the Story Is Inappropriate

“Ban This Book” follows a girl as she creates a locker library of banned titles. Pippin’s complaint about the book states that the story was “inappropriate for unaccompanied minor children in schools.”

A woman in a grey cardigan looking at books at a library

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Pippin cited pages in the book where the characters mention other materials that reference intercourse.

One of 245 Books Challenged by Pippin

The complaint was one of the 245 book challenges Pippin has submitted on behalf of her Moms for Liberty chapter in Florida.

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Pippin told The Post that she filed complaints on behalf of the group’s members to protect their safety.


The Ironic Ban

The school district committee recommended keeping “Ban This Book” on shelves, but the five-member Indian River County school board voted to ban it.

A woman holding a copy 'Ban This Book'

Source: emilysbookshelf__/Instagram

“The overwhelming irony of banning a book about book banning has been enough to keep people from banning it for a little while,” Gratz told The Post.


School Board Member Calls the Book Ironic

School board member Kevin McDonald said that he disagreed with the review committee’s recommendation to keep the book on the shelves of three schools, stating that the book encouraged undermining district officials and promoted “inappropriate books.”

A boy student doing a workbook in a classroom

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“I thought it was ironic that this book intentionally and overtly says that school boards shouldn’t matter, only 9-year-olds and librarians should matter,” he said.


The Up-Tick in Banned Books

Gratz wrote the book in 2017 to call attention to the challenges authors and literature face in the current school system, saying the issue was “relatively unseen” at the time.

A Teacher Standing in the Classroom

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He recalled religious objections to the Harry Potter series’ portrayal of witchcraft and the challenges Junie B. Jones’s books faced because the titular character had poor grammar.


What Can Kids Read? 

“Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can’t read, except your parents, and they shouldn’t have the ability to tell other parents what books their kids can and can’t read,” he told The Post.

Selective Focus Photography of Woman Holding Book

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“And that’s the core message,” of “Ban This Book,” which can be accessed through public libraries and online bookstores.


Another Book of Gratz Received Backlash

Last year, another one of Gratz’s books received backlash at a middle school in Pennsylvania. His reading of “Two Degrees” was canceled after district officials questioned whether discussions about climate change were appropriate for students.

A Girl Reading Book while Sitting on a Chair Inside the Library

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Gratz isn’t the only author who is facing backlash for subject material that parents deem inappropriate for their children.


Worried for the Future

While he continues to keep working to create stories that students can engage with, Gratz is worried that the message of “Ban This Book” will be lost among the audience it was written for.

Books in Black Wooden Book Shelf

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“I wish that ‘Ban This Book’ didn’t need to exist as a book,” he said. “I would happily take it back.”