The Power of Words: Edmond Public Schools takes action on censorship issues


Some of the few books that are banned or are getting banned.

Alanna LaDeaux, Howler Staff Writer

When an author sits down and writes a book, they write it with passion, and every word, every period and exclamation point, every detail of their book has a meaning and a purpose. So, what truly is the power of words? 

All over the nation the power that words hold is beginning to frighten many parents, activists, lawmakers and school board officials. They’ve started challenging books at a pace that hasn’t been seen in decades. 

In Oklahoma, there was a bill introduced that would prohibit public school libraries from keeping books on hand that focus on sexual activity, sexual identity or gender identity.

Across the country a lot of the books getting targeted address different kinds of prejudice that some people may be scared or hesitant to learn about: 

  • The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
    • A memoir about growing up in poverty with a father who spent his money on alcohol and a mother who became homeless. 
  • The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
    • A Sunni Muslim, who struggles to find his place in the world because of the aftereffects and fallout from a series of traumatic childhood events.

“I think people are often afraid of/uncomfortable with what they do not understand, which is what leads to misunderstandings,” said Heather Bowlan, Library Media Specialist at Edmond Santa Fe. “ I am very heartbroken over how persons from marginalized groups must feel. We want them to feel seen, heard, and loved through books.” 

Books are doors to the unknown. Books hold ideas and knowledge that may be unknown to other people. They share lessons and allow people to learn from others’ mistakes

“Books are ideas,” said Tia Carlton, parent of former students at Edmond Santa Fe High School. “If an idea makes us uncomfortable we need to ask ourselves why.” 

Many people are against the idea of censorship/banning books but still want transparency with their child’s reading choices.

“Parents must have transparency and choices in regards to books and their kids’ reading and curriculum,” Emily Christensen, parent of a student in Edmond Public Schools. “In closing, I and many parents are not for banning books, we are for informed consent. If a book’s complete content cannot be discussed in class due to explicit language and/or sexual content. Parents should be informed and be given consent.”

Edmond Schools currently allow transparency making parents aware of the novels we read and what they’re about, but they also give the “opt-out” option on the enrollment form for any parents who do not feel comfortable with their child reading the material. 

Over the summer the English Language Arts (ELA) teachers of Edmond Schools will be meeting in sessions to fully discuss the reading choices for the upcoming school year. 

“Our board members are often stopped in public and asked about our books or our reading selection,” said ELA Content Specialist, Jackie Rasnic. “ They are asked how these books are selected…but we’ve never in the past had a specific procedure in place or a rubric… So the board has asked to please put a protocol in place. I’ve created a rubric that’s tied to our standards… all of the committees will look at these 60 books and write a rationale for ‘why does Edmond Public Schools select these books’.” 

EPS hopes that this will allow the parents of the school district to feel more comfortable and at ease with what their children are reading.

If you want to learn more about how to get involved with what your child will be reading contact Jacqueline Rasnic: [email protected]