This spring, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District formed a new district-wide library committee tasked with reviewing a list of 56 book titles deemed inappropriate by district parents, staff, and community members.

After the committee’s first meeting in August, it laid out a process in which it will read 3-5 books each month. The committee will make recommendations for each book on whether to retain, restrict, or remove the book from library shelves. Those recommendations will be passed on to the board on a rolling basis throughout the school year.   

The first four books under review by the committee on September 14th are “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robie Harris, “Drama” by Raina Telgemeier, “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold, and “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison.

4 books under review by the Mat Su school district

The ability to read what we want free from government interference is a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment. Still, attempts are made every year to ban certain books from public schools and libraries.

Books written for young readers and those focusing on the experiences of women, people of color, and gay or transgender people are especially at risk of being challenged and banned.  

The ACLU of Alaska is monitoring these meetings and supporting community members interested in testifying against any attempts to ban books in school districts across the state. Join us on Friday, September 15th, at Black Birch Books for a Testimony Preparation Workshop before the September 20th board meeting. Please complete our legal intake form if you feel your First Amendment rights have been violated.   

Banned Book Week is October 1-7, 2023. Join the ACLU of Alaska, Out North, and the Alaska Bookmobile for the fourth annual ‘unAUTHORized’ event - a project highlighting banned and challenged books. On October 4th, from 3-7 p.m. at Black Birch Books in Wasilla, we will co-host a pop-up live read-out event. Hop on board the Banned Bookmobile and exercise the freedom to read by recording a passage from your favorite banned or challenged book and taking a free copy home. KONR-LP 106.1 FM (Out North Radio) and other local stations will play these recordings. Learn more about other pop-ups in Southcentral Alaska here.