Artist: Coe Booth
Date of Action: July-September, 2016
Region: North America
Location: Chesterfield, Virginia
Confronting Bodies: Chesterfield County Public School Board
Description of Artwork: Tyrell is a young adult novel by the award winning American young adult author Coe Booth. It portrays the gritty reality of teenage inner city life and the raw depictions of the lives of young teens in troubled situations.
The Incident: Parents and a local politician in Chesterfield County, VA objected to the inclusion of Tyrellon a suggested summer reading list, dismissing it as “vile” and “pornographic.” They demanded that certain books, includingTyrell, be removed from the District’s libraries because they discuss allegedly inappropriate themes such as drug use, sexuality, and violence.
Some parents, most notably State Senator Amanda Chase, also wanted the District to assign labels and ratings in order to warn parents and children about potentially objectionable topics. "Labels such as 'sexually explicit' or 'violent' rely on the emphasis of decontextualized passages and do tremendous disservices to the works they accompany by detracting from students’ understanding and appreciation of the works as a whole," the letter read.
Results of Incident: The National Coalition Against Censorship sent a letter to the superintendent and board members of Chesterfield County, VA, in defense of books on a summer reading list that recently came under fire for containing "sexually explicit" material. The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia written to the Chesterfield County school board in support of the points raised in NCAC's letter. ACLU's letter emphasizes its opposition to attempts to rate and label library books that "only encourages some parents to forbid their children from reading the books without knowing much more about them other than an arbitrary label attached to them."
In September, 2016, a report from the the Chesterfield County Public School Board announced that, upon review, the committee convened by the board has recommmended that Tyrell by Coe Booth, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers all remain in local school libraries. (See: "ACLU Joins NCAC in Protesting Attempts to Rate and Censor Library Books in Virginia")
YA Author Coe Booth on Reading to Find Commonality in the Other, by JAS CHANA, NCAC, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016