The children's author Phil Bildner apparently has been disinvited from several schools in Round Rock Independent School District in Round Rock, Texas. He published this statement yesterday on the blog of ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom:
Whenever I present to kids at my school visits, I always booktalk other authors’ books. It’s important for kids to know about the great stories that are out there.
I always talk about empathy, too. There’s an empathy portion of my school visit presentations. We talk about characters who are different than us. Look different. Believe different things. Dress differently. Because when we read, we develop a better understanding of the human experience.
That’s what I tell the students.
Last September and October, when I visited the thirteen elementary schools in Round Rock ISD, I booktalked a number of books: Wonder; Out of My Mind; The One and Only Ivan; Crenshaw; El Deafo; George.
I booktalked George to fourth graders at six schools and to a combined assembly of third and fifth graders at another. I shared with the kids the book’s most basic and beautiful message. Be who you are.
But I didn’t talk about George at all the schools.
At the last six schools I visited in Round Rock ISD last fall, I was monitored by an administrator. No, not an administrator from that school, a district administrator. At every presentation. In fact, the Director of Library and Media Services for Round Rock ISD attended more than a dozen presentations at five different schools.
I’ve been visiting the Round Rock schools every year since 2007. I can count on one hand the number of times an administrator from any district has stayed for even a portion of my presentations prior to last year.
So ask those administrators who attended last year’s presentations about those presentations. Ask the Director of Library & Media Services about last October’s monthly librarians’ meeting held after my final school visit last fall.
And while you’re asking questions, ask Round Rock ISD how this all started.
Ask them that.
Is this censorship? asks OIF's KristIn Pekoll: "We don’t have all the answers. Help us continue to ask Round Rock ISD for a response to our questions."