Saturday, March 03, 2007

Some Stolen Schoolbooks Being Replaced

I mentioned in an earlier post that some Cuban parents in Florida have taken to stealing books from the school libraries of their children because they are offended by the contents of the books. They are doing it openly and with no sense of wrongness or shame involved. Syndicated newspaper columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. finds that practice to be as wrong as many of us found it when we read the story. Now Pitts plans to fight back by personally replacing books that have been stolen.

"It's not censoring," Rodriguez said. "It's protecting our children from lies."

But of course it is censoring, and I'd love to be able to report that the fact Bossard Elementary just got its book back means Rodriguez has belatedly realized this and repented. What it actually means is that I had a copy of the book shipped to the school at my expense.
Now, Dalila Rodriguez steals a book. It is an offensive book, she says, citing a line that says many Cubans immigrated to Florida when Castro took power in 1959. Cubans "immigrated" to Florida the way you "immigrate" to the front lawn when your house in on fire, so her ire is understandable.

Her theft is not. Do we all get to remove from the library any book that hurts our feelings? Pretty soon you wouldn't have a library - just a room full of empty shelves.

I'm going to make a promise, then: For as long as Rodriguez and her confederates want to keep stealing Bossard Elementary's copy of "Discovering Cultures, Cuba," I'll keep replacing it. Let me hear the book has disappeared, and a new copy is on its way as fast as can get it there.

Here's a final word for Dalila Rodriguez: Your turn.

Thank you, Mr. Pitts.


  1. Amy, I'm kind of surprised that no one else jumped to do this and I'm happy that Pitts decided to do it. That means that the authors will benefit and I hope that others will see the futility of stealing books from libraries that they find offensive. All this publicity has gotten that particular book a whole lot more exposure than it would have ever received prior to this incident, that's for sure.

  2. Sam,
    The part about the exposure is definitely true.

    This struck a particular chord with me because in the area in which I live, there is a censorship case going on.

    As a parent, I take full responsibility for what my kids are reading, both good and bad and I feel strongly about anyone else, even another parent with seemingly good intentions, trying to make a book inaccessible to children.

    I commend Leonard for making sure this title stays accessible.