(NEW YORK)– In response to reporting that the Rapid City Area school board in South Dakota potentially will vote to destroy copies of five book titles that were banned by school administrators without even being used, Jonathan Friedman, director of Free Expression and Education at PEN America, released the following statement:

“This is a disturbing and disdainful development. While books are being banned all over the country, few have tried to ‘destroy’ them in such a callous or clandestine manner. All kinds of questions remain about why administrators banned this set of newly adopted books, and how they ended up literally on the chopping block. But the prospect of destruction also reflects the uncompromising extremism now pervading many public school districts. Books, words, and works of literature are being seen as so objectionable that they must be obliterated. PEN America calls on the Rapid City Area School Board to resist these dangerous demands, and stand up instead for the freedom to read in our democracy.”

The titles which are on the slate to be potentially “destroyed” include:

  • 185 copies ofHow Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue
  • 35 copies of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  • 75 copies of The Perks of Being a Wallflowerby Stephen Chbosky
  • 30 copies of Girl, Woman, Other: A Novelby Bernardine Evaristo
  • 30 copies of The Circle by Dave Eggers

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, STrimel@PEN.org, 201-247-5057