The Painted Porch Shares Free Books in Response to Districtwide Bans

The Painted Porch Shares Free Books in Response to Districtwide Bans
Some of the books that are motioned to be banned outside the Banned Bookmobile. | Image from Scribd Twitter

A bookstore in Texas called The Painted Porch recently partnered with the company Scribd to distribute thousands of free books during “Banned Bookmobile” events.

Shop owners Ryan and Samantha Holiday spoke to KXAN on February 22 about the reason behind the events.

Ryan said it was a way to send a message regarding recent book bans happening in school districts across the state.

“As booksellers, obviously, this is alarming,” he told KXAN. “As a writer, this is alarming, but, as human beings, we think that words matter. And truth matters.”

The Painted Porch partnered with Scribd, an audio and e-book company, to distribute free books during two weekends of “Banned Bookmobile” events. A number of books given out were titles banned in Texas schools, including Fahrenheit 451.

In November, Texas Governor Greg Abbott voiced parent concerns about books and graphic novels in schools in a letter to the Texas Association of School Boards. This letter pointed to content parents felt was inappropriate for students.

“The most flagrant examples include clearly pornographic images and substance that have no place in the Texas public education system,” Governor Abbott stated. “These parents are rightfully angry. Parents have the right to shield their children from obscene content used in schools their children attend. They are right that Texas public schools should not provide or promote pornographic or obscene material to students.”

The letter followed an investigation by Texas Republican lawmakers that investigated the books offered on school campuses, KXAN reported. In October, state representative Matt Krause sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency recommending the removal of over 800 books from school districts.

According to KXAN, Krause has asked Texas school districts to take note of which books “contain material that might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

Holiday told KXAN that he agreed some books were more suitable for older age groups, but feels that parents should ultimately be in charge of talking to their children about these titles.

“Our kids being exposed to new ideas in books is a really good problem to have. I’d much rather be having to explain something unusual or challenging or uncomfortable, even explicit, than have the opposite problem, which is that my kid isn’t interested in books at all or doesn’t know how to read,” he said.

Ryan noted that Fahrenheit 451 was the most popular title given away at both events over the weekend.

“That’s a book that we read in school, and we can’t miss what it’s about, right?” He stated. “It’s not just that the government can come and try to take books away, but that we ourselves, wanting to have everyone get along and to not have controversy and to not upset anyone, can end up censoring ourselves.”

The free events were so successful that Ryan told KXAN The Painted Porch is planning to host more in the future.

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