Today in books and publishing: Fighting censorship of a book about lesbian moms; Israel fights against book discounts; where are the stay-at-home dads in kids' books; you will covet this book-tent.
Censorship of a picture book. Debate continues over In Our Mothers' House, a book by Patricia Polacco about a lesbian couple that was put behind checkout counters in elementary libraries in Utah's Davis School District. (The book now require a parent's permission slip to be checked out.) The Kids' Right to Read Project, which is a combined effort of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, wrote to Superintendent Bryan Bowles, as did the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah earlier this week, to say that restricting access to the book "diminishes the education value of the library whose primary role is to allow students to make choices according to their own interests, experiences, and family values" and is likely unconstitutional.
"Federal courts have consistently concluded that the First Amendment protects student access to books in their school libraries, free from limits based on the administration’s disagreement with the viewpoints expressed in the books," said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah.
"From what we know of the district’s removal of the book, we have serious concerns that the district may have fallen short of these protections."
A committee of seven teachers, administrators, and parents voted (6-1) to keep the book off shelves on April 30 because, they said, it didn't align with curriculum standards, "because state law dictates that curriculum cannot advocate homosexuality." A librarian cast the lone no vote. Bowles has reportedly been in conversations with the ACLU. On the up side, remember what happens with censored books? They tend to only get more popular. [Salt Lake Tribune]
Elsewhere: Why so few stay-at-home dads in kids' books? [The Globe and Mail]
Israeli authors are fighting against book discounts offered by the county's two main bookstore chains, Steimatzky and Tzomet Sfarim, "claiming the price slashing [as low as $6 a book as opposed to catalogue prices ranging $15 or $20] has cut into their royalties." They've gotten Netanyahu and government ministers to support them, and "the parliament is expected to approve a bill enshrining the limits." In France, Germany, and Mexico, similar laws have been passed. [Fox News]
Y.A. appeal for urban youth. Hoping to get more kids to read, Saddleback Educational Publishing is banking on the Urban Flip Book series by Stephanie Perry Moore, who co-wrote the boy's books in the series with her husband, former NFL player Derrick Moore. The series is about high school cheerleaders and football players (it's inspired by Friday Night Lights) and is written at a third-grade reading level. "'Many of our struggling learners are African American, Latino, ethnically diverse, so it's important to connect with all of them and show them there are books about them, about the families they're a part of, the friends they have, the environments they're used to,' said [Saddleback's Arianne] McHugh, whose company publishes 100 books each year for middle- and high-school students that marry tween and teen content with a first- to fourth-grade reading level, as well as supplemental educational material written at lower reading levels than the curriculum." [Los Angeles Times]
Google Play books are now available in Germany. That means Google's online bookstore is expanding—it's also in Australia, Canada, Italy, the UK, and the U.S. Surely, there will be more. [Engadget]