Parents in Duval County have gathered signatures asking the local school board to to ban several books about the Middle East from an elementary school library because they deal with war and because characters in the books pray to a non-Christian god.
According to Jacksonville.com, the offending books are Nasreen’s Secret School. In an ironic twist, the books — written by Jeanette Winter — are about fears of Muslim religious fundamentalists destroying books and keeping young girls from receiving an education.
In a passage from Nasreen’s Secret School, Nasreen’s grandmother explains, “The Taliban soldiers don’t want girls to learn about the world, the way Nasreen’s mama and I learned when we were girls.”
After Nasreen’s father is arrested and whisked away in the night by the Taliban, she is taken by her grandmother to a secret school with her grandmother praying, “Please Allah, open her eyes to the world.”
School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said banning books is a bad idea.
“We are walking up a slippery slope when we start to decide what books we are going to ban from the curriculum,” Vitti said.
Dianne Haines Roberts, a grandparent of several students at New Berlin Elementary School, doesn’t believe the children should be exposed to the books.
“We’re talking about third-graders and they’re very impressionable. I don’t think they need to know the horrors of the world,” Roberts said.
Roberts added, “I’m a Christian … and in public school, we’re not allowed to have any references to God, Jesus or passages about creation. I just think what’s good for one group, should be good for all.”
Devon Mears, the mother of a third-grader, dismissed the books banners, saying: “I question if they even read the books.”