Challenged Books: Eleanor & Park and the READ BRAVE Program

In the author’s own words: Eleanor & Park is set in 1986. It’s about to 16 year old to fall in love on a school bus. The story is told from both of their points of view. Eleanor, a chubby redhead, is the new kid at school, and she’s facing some pretty intense bullying. Also, she has a terrible, abusive step-dad, who makes life at home miserable. Parked home life is pretty good – his parents love him and each other – but he’s one of the only Asian kids at school, and he listens to bands no one has heard of, and he feels like a misfit, even inside his own house. So Eleanor and Park fall in Love. Unexpectedly. And intensely. And they both feel saved by that love.

The book Eleanor & Park by author Rainbow Rowell was released in Spring of 2013. Nationally, it was met with much praise, including being chosen for the Amazon book of the month, and was a New York Times bestseller. A group of high school librarians from the Anoka – Hennepin school district is Eleanor & Park as their school district summer read for all students and invited Rowell to come visit the Anoka – Hennepin schools and the local public library in the fall of 2014. Beginning in the summer of 2014, two parents with the support of the district’s parents Action League convinced the Anoka – Hennepin School District, the County Board, and the local library board to cancel Rowell’s visit, leaving the book dangerously obscene and demanding that it be removed from the library.

In response to the happenings in the Anoka – Hennepin School District, Librarians at Saint Paul public libraries the left of the book, Eleanor & Park, for their 2013 Read Brave initiative. The Read Brave program is a library’s annual, citywide program that encourages Youth and adults to read and discuss a book that explores contemporary issues facing teens. Through this initiative, Rowell visited Saint Paul on two separate occasions to discuss her work with teens and adults in the area.

Read more about the READ BRAVE program at St. Paul Public Library

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