If 2021 and 2022 were about banning books to get attention for right-wing causes, then 2023 can be dubbed the beginning of the push to dismantle book fairs by these same groups and individuals. They’re still banning books, of course, but now, more time and attention–and indeed, money–are at the heart of demands to end school and library book fairs through traditional outlets like Scholastic. Censorship attempts at school book fairs have been on the rise, and in September, we rang the alarm.
Earlier this month, a mysterious woman appeared before a school board in Texas and claimed that, when she was 11, she READ A SCHOLASTIC BOOK THAT SPARKED A DEBILITATING PORN ADDICTION.
The book, she says, featured “one kiss.”
And it’s ABSOLUTELY WILD what is happening.
The woman, Lanah Burkhardt, failed to disclose that she is the “public relations coordinator” for a right-wing book publisher, Brave Books, seeking to replace Scholastic in public schools.
Burkhardt went further, arguing that Conroe should remove all Scholastic books from schools and stop hosting Scholastic book fairs. These steps were necessary, Burkhardt argued, to protect children from “sexual obscenity.” According to Burkhardt, “getting rid of Scholastic books and their book fairs will inevitably protect kids.”
Burkhardt’s appearance was promoted by SkyTree Book Fairs, a newly formed organization marketing itself as “an alternative to the sexually explicit content distributed in Scholastic’s book fairs.”
Many of the titles published by Brave Books are set in an imaginary world based on the United States called Freedom Island. According to Politico, each book based on Freedom Island contains a “fold-out map marked with villages and mountain ranges,” with the southwestern corner of the map being called the “Car-a-Lago Coast.” The books also include “an afterword for parents” that is “filled with suggested games and discussion questions to drive home political concepts.”
While SkyTree Book Fairs presents itself as an independent non-profit organization, it appears to be a hastily assembled offshoot of Brave Books, which publishes children’s books by right-wing pundits and pseudo-celebrities.