Earlier this month, we compared national trends against selected local school districts to determine which books are really “banned” in the libraries. That analysis shows that locally the trends are mostly consistent with national trends where the books being limited in the school libraries are generally those written by conservative-minded authors. Using James Fishback’s methodology from his recent article in The Free Press, we selected twelve local districts from the collar counties and searched their library databases. There were a total of nineteen conservative-minded books and seventeen progressive-minded books. The titles are listed at the end of this article.

My previous article on this topic focused on consolidating the data from the twelve local school districts and comparing it to the national trends; however, it did not break down the specifics of the local districts. There is definitely variation among the local districts and even between the counties. The chart below shows the ratio of conservative-minded books to progressive-minded books by district and county.

Acknowledging that this is a limited sample of districts across the four counties, there are some interesting trends to note. First, the Chester County districts lead the region in the highest number of progressive-minded books with forty-one to only two conservative-minded books. Great Valley School District had none of the conservative books in their collection.

After Chester County, Bucks County came in second place with thirty-three progressive-minded books versus one conservative-minded book. The Delaware County school districts surveyed came in third but only due to the overwhelming number of progressive books at Radnor School District. Radnor libraries have sixteen of the seventeen progressive-minded books and only one conservative-minded book. Haverford and Marple Newtown combined have less progressive books than Radnor, and Haverford is the only district to have two conservative books in their collection.

The Montgomery County school districts have the fewest progressive books but not a single conservative book. Souderton is the clear outlier with only two progressive books, followed by North Penn with only six. Perkiomen Valley is more closely aligned with other districts in the region with twelve progressive books and no conservative books.

Breakdown of selected conservative and progressive books in local school libraries

CountyDistrictRatio – Conservative to ProgressiveConservative BooksProgressive Books
ChesterGreat Valley0:13013
ChesterWest Chester1:13113
BucksCentral Bucks1:12112
DelawareMarple Newtown0:707
MontgomeryNorth Penn0:606
MontgomeryPerkiomen Valley0:12012

The data shows that schools can be intentional or not about the books in their libraries. While the overall trends are similar in that there are significantly more progressive books than conservative books in the libraries, there are differences in the magnitude of the issue.  

Why do some districts, like Souderton, have fewer progressive-minded books than others?  Even North Penn, Marple Newtown, and Haverford have in some instances less than half the number of liberal books than other districts surveyed. And Haverford had the most, albeit a very small number of two, conservative-minded books. 

Interestingly, a Haverford parent commented on my first article that she and another parent made recommendations and some donations of conservative books to the district’s collection. Parents recommending and donating books is certainly admirable, but it should not be the primary methodology. School board directors and district administrators should be aware of the types of books that are in circulation. While I wouldn’t expect them to know every book in every library, they should at least have a sense of diversity of topics and perspectives.  

This exercise of analyzing divergent points of view did not take very long. Librarians could easily complete this task within an hour or two if they were required to do so. Given the controversial nature of this topic, it seems incumbent upon board members and administrators to ask the questions and determine if their libraries are adequately representing both sides equally and fairly. 

The next time that a “book challenge” comes up at a school board meeting, I encourage parents, administrators, and board members to look at the broader issue in the context of a balanced library collection because there’s one side primarily limiting books in the library. If this analysis has shown nothing else, it has demonstrated that our libraries are overwhelmingly filled with liberal books, not conservative ones.

Conservative-minded Books (19 total)

America, a Redemption Story by Tim Scott

Bibi: My Story by Benjamin Netanyahu

Breaking History by Jared Kushner

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman

Created Equal by Ben Carson

Decades of Decadence by Marco Rubio

If You Want Something Done by Nikki Haley

Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by Abigail Shrier

Nation of Victims by Vivek Ramaswamy

Never Give an Inch by Mike Pompeo

So Help Me God by Mike Pence

Social Justice Fallacies by Thomas Sowell

The 1619 Project: A Critique by Phillip W. Magness

The Courage to Be Free by Ron DeSantis

The Diversity Delusion by Heather Mac Donald

The War on the West by Douglas Murray

Trans by Helen Joyce

When Harry Became Sally by Ryan Anderson

Woke Racism by John McWhorter

Progressive-minded Books (17 total)

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis

An African American and Latinx History of the U.S. by Paul Ortiz

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Guide to Political Revolution by Bernie Sanders

How to Be An AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

White Rage by Carol Anderson

Beth Ann Rosica resides in West Chester, has a Ph.D. in Education, and has dedicated her career to advocating on behalf of at-risk children and families. She covers education issues for Broad + Liberty. Contact her at barosica@broadandliberty.com.

2 thoughts on “Beth Ann Rosica: More on those so-called “banned books””

  1. The biggest issue I have found is prurient, explicit, and obscene content. That does not discriminate. Most involve minors, or minors with adults from what I’ve discovered. Progressive or not, they violate the Supreme Court Guidelines for minors. School libraries are not Public Libraries and the purpose is support the student education, which they clearly have strayed from.

    Yes there is without a doubt CRT within our public school system libraries and I’m told by parents it’s often on display for publicly/promotion.

  2. We live in a time more similar to the dark eras of centuries past than is comfortable to recognize. In the dark times, policy and behavior were driven by myths and shibboleths … or the pronouncements anointed ones who knew the truth.

    Today urban legends and cliches, untested by reflection and dissent, drive discussions and policy. A compliant media flogs us into numb acceptance of the “truth” experts have anointed.

    Yes, there are book shunnings and censorship in our libraries, just not the books we’ve been told by the cognoscenti.

    Someone said the truth shall set you free. Truth shines light in the dark places. And quantified truth like the writing of Dr. Rosica is the antidote for these dark times.

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