Grandma Refuses to Return Library Book, Could Face Jail Time
A Maine woman refuses to return a book she deems sexually graphic.
Aug. 29, 2008— -- A concerned grandmother would rather go to jail than let neighborhood kids read about sex in a library book.
She may get her wish.
Officials in Lewiston, Maine, have told JoAn Karkos that she could face jail time if she does not, by this afternoon, return the library book "It's Perfectly Normal."
Karkos has had the book checked out of the Lewiston Public Library for more than a year in hopes of preventing children from reading it. Aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds, the book discusses puberty, sexual health and the emotions surrounding a child's newfound sexual awareness.
Her protest is not the first of its kind. From Texas to Colorado, people concerned about the book's frank images and language have staged protests to get it pulled off shelves at libraries and schools.
Karkos heard about the book from a newsletter put out by the American Life League, a national anti-abortion rights group, that included copies of pictures from the book with the nudity censored.
"I was horrified, just by the newsletter," she said.
After finding the book at the library, Karkos -- a mother of two grown children and grandmother to two young boys -- checked it out and read it. She said it teaches children that their bodies are like a "plaything."
"This is a sex initiation book," she said.
Karkos would prefer that children in the age group targeted by "It's Perfectly Normal" receive gender-specific information at school about their changing bodies. There's no reason, she said, that they need to know about sexually transmitted diseases, abortion or birth control.
Karkos even went so far as to send a check for $20.95 to the library, the cost of the book plus tax. When the check was returned along with a copy of library procedures, she mailed it back.
Karkos tried bringing her protest before city officials, saying the book violated city ordinances on obscenity. Her objection was overruled.
Karkos appeared in court in December after receiving a routine civil summons for not complying with library procedure. She pleaded not guilty.