The Rapid City school board wants to destroy—not simply surplus, sell, or give away, but destroy—copies of five modern books it deems objectionable.
“The Circle” [by Dave Eggers] was deemed to be inappropriate by RCAS school administrators. Thirty copies of “The Circle” — along with 185 copies of “How Beautiful We Were: A Novel” by Imbolo Mbue, 35 copies of “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by Alison Bechdel, 75 copies of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky and 30 copies of “Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel” by Bernardine Evaristo — were pulled from 12th grade English classes [Nathan Thompson, “Author Offers to Buy ‘To Be Destroyed’ Books for RCAS High School Seniors,” Rapid City Journal, 2022.05.04].
Reader’s Digest lists The Perks of Being a Wildflower as one of the 50 best books for teens.
Rather than leap at the chance to turn the books to cash, as they do with other surplus items, the Rapid City school board wants to look for a legal excuse to decline the offer and stoke the flames of their book-destroying passion:
Multiple volumes of the five books at issue are on a list of surplus property that includes broken office furniture, outdated printers, and a cart without wheels. Only the books are to be destroyed. The other items are to be sold or recycled.
…One of the speakers [Mary Haan] offered to buy the books, more than 350 volumes, for $200. The board discussed accepting her offer, but President Kate Thomas said they needed to first consult an attorney to see if they could legally distribute possibly pornographic materials [Victoria Wicks, “Rapid City Parents, Teachers Speak Out About Destroying Books,” SDPB, 2022.05.04].
Even if the fascists destroy the books they don’t like, targeted author Dave Eggers is willing to send new copies straight to the students:
Dave Eggers, author of “The Circle,” said beginning Thursday, Rapid City high school seniors can receive any of the titles at no cost to them by emailing Amanda Uhle via email@example.com. Eggers said the books will be shipped to students from independent bookstores.
…“The mass destruction of books by school boards is an unconscionable horror, and the freethinking young people of South Dakota shouldn’t be subjected to it,” Eggers said. “Every high school student should have unfettered access to literature, so if you’re a Rapid City high school senior, email our office and ask for any of these titles. For every copy the school board destroys, let’s add a new one to the local circulation” [link added; Thompson, 2022.05.04].
The best response to book burners is more books. Seniors, order your copies today, and carry them with you at graduation. When the school board president gets up to speak, open those books up and read.