Conservative youth group will offer Burbank students free copies of challenged books

A conservative youth organization announced Monday that it will provide students in the Burbank Unified School District with free copies of five challenged books that were temporarily removed from in-class instruction.

“In addition to putting the books Burbank schools are attempting to hide directly into students’ hands, [Young America’s Foundation] is calling on those with the power to do the right thing — the board members of the Burbank Unified School District — to immediately rescind their ban on these books,” the organization said on Twitter.

On Sept. 9, English teachers in Burbank were told that they would not be allowed to teach some of the books on their curriculum until further notice: Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” Theodore Taylor’s “The Cay” and Mildred D. Taylor’s Newbery Medal-winning young-adult classic “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.”

Four parents filed district complaints alleging that the novels, which deal with race and racism in America, are harmful to the public school district’s roughly 400 Black students. The district formed a 15-person review committee to address the challenges and present a recommendation to BUSD Superintendent Matt Hill. A district decision about whether to remove the books permanently from in-class instruction is still pending.

“These books are classics of American fiction precisely because they address uncomfortable historical truths from our past,” Rob Raede, the donor who will make the books available to students, told the YAF. “We are proud to do what we can to make sure the students of Burbank have access to this great literature, despite the efforts of the book-banning cowards on the school board to deny to their students the lessons contained within.”

In a statement published on the organization’s website, YAF spokesman Spencer Brown said, “History is to be learned from, not erased anytime the whims of a leftist mob deem it uncomfortable.” Raede’s donation, he added, will help the YAF “provide these important works of literature and do what the Burbank School Board won’t — allow its students to learn from and wrestle with the ideas in these iconic books.”

The challenge does not forbid Burbank students from reading the books; it only restricts in-class teaching of them. According to Superintendent Hill, the novels will still be available in school libraries and classrooms.

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