Eggers offers replacements for South Dakota banned books

Best-selling author Dave Eggers is offering high school seniors in South Dakota’s second-largest city free copies of his book “The Circle” and copies of four books by other authors that were removed from the district’s schools

ByThe Associated Press
May 05, 2022, 5:09 PM

RAPID CITY, S.D. -- Best-selling author Dave Eggers is offering high school seniors in South Dakota's second-largest city free copies of his book “The Circle” and copies of four books by other authors that were removed from the district's schools.

School administrators in Rapid City deemed the books inappropriate for high school students and and marked the district's copies as surplus to be destroyed.

“The mass destruction of books by school boards is an unconscionable horror, and the freethinking young people of South Dakota shouldn’t be subjected to it,” Eggers said. “Every high school student should have unfettered access to literature, so if you’re a Rapid City high school senior, email our office and ask for any of these titles. For every copy the school board destroys, let’s add a new one to the local circulation.”

Valerie Brablec Seales, Rapid City Area Schools' director of Teaching, Learning and Innovation, told the Board of Education that teachers requested the books and were considering using them in a new 12th-grade English course.

Seales didn't say why administrators objected to “The Circle,” which satirizes cultures and values that have emerged in the internet age. But she said the first concerns about one of the five books were raised in August, the Rapid City Journal reported.

“The first question arose when one of the three high school principals sent me an image of a page in one of the books, an excerpt, and expressed concerns about not wanting it in their classrooms,” she said Tuesday.

She said the books were ordered and sent to a warehouse before being distributed to the district's three high schools. Copies of the five books in question were then listed as surplus and marked “to be destroyed.” The Board of Education on Tuesday voted to delay a decision to destroy the books in order to seek legal advice.

Eggers said Rapid City seniors can receive any of the books that were pulled from the high school at no cost to them by emailing Amanda Uhle at amanda@daveeggers.net. He said the books will be shipped to students by independent bookstores.

The other books that the district pulled are “How Beautiful We Were: A Novel" by Imbolo Mbue, which follows a young woman from a small African village who starts a revolution against an American oil company.

Also removed was “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” a graphic memoir about author Alison Bechdel's fraught relationship with her late father, and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky, which some schools elsewhere have banned because of its references to drug and alcohol use and sexual content.

The other book removed is the Booker prize-winning “Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel” by Bernardine Evaristo, which follows the lives and struggles of twelve characters, many of whom are Black British women.

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