When award-winning author and illustrator Jerry Craft learned last October that his virtual visit to a school in Katy, Texas, was canceled and his popular book New Kid had been removed from the library’s shelves, he was shocked. A mom had complained that his humorous graphic novel—about his childhood experience as a Black student attending a mostly white school—gives students a distorted view of race.
“I couldn’t imagine what someone would find in it that was offensive,” says Craft, whose book won the Newbery Medal and a Coretta Scott King Book Award. But some 400 people had signed a petition supporting the actions. After a 10-day review from the school district, his visit was rescheduled and the book put back on the shelves.
New Kid joined a long list of books that have been removed from schools after being challenged by parents and others. In fact, according to the American Library Association, more than 330 books were challenged between September 1 and November 30, 2021—more than double the number reported in that same time frame in 2020. Recent examples include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus, a graphic novel about the Holocaust; and Ruby Bridges Goes to School, the true story of a six-year-old Black student who integrated a New Orleans school.