Florida library creates club for ‘banned’ books at public schools

From school districts across the country to right here in Central Florida, the books children read in the classroom and their school libraries have sparked heated debates. In some districts, these books have been outright banned. 

In Florida, Moms for Liberty, a parent-led activist group, has led the charge to pull dozens of books from library shelves across the state -- believing the contents inside are not appropriate for children to read.

"…sexually explicit materials, we want them removed from libraries in schools," said Jenifer Kelly, Moms For Liberty - Volusia County Chapter Chairman.

As that debate continues -- one public librarian started a "Banned Book" club. Students meet to read books at the center of controversy.

"It's a historical moment," said Gemma Rose who founded the Freedom Readers Book Club, "We've never had a teen book discussion on banned or challenged books." 

The group recently finished reading "Speak," a book that describes one teen’s struggle after being sexually assaulted. It’s one of the most frequently banned books in schools across the country, according to the American Library Association.


During this teen group meeting, students discuss the book, ask questions, and hear from a guest speaker. To attend, parents must sign a permission form allowing their child to be there.

Anthony Pacilli, an eighth-grade student, said his mom told him to "get out of the house and learn something." Two books later, he believes he has.

"In a lot of spaces, we can’t talk about things like this. A good space to talk about things," he said.

So, what do some leaders with Moms For Liberty think about these public "banned" book clubs? They agree with the idea.

For them, these controversial books are out of schools and in a place where parents have a choice in what their child reads.

"You can go to the public library to borrow it. You can get it off Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and read it yourself," Kelly.

The next book club meeting is November 29th at 4:30 at the Flagler County Public Library. All students are welcome to attend. The book being discussed is "Night" by Elie Wiesel. It's a memoir detailing his experience surviving the Holocaust.