How parents and booksellers are fighting Texas GOP book bans


Concerned parents and bookstore owners refuse to sit idly by as the works of writers of color and LGTBQ authors are challenged in Texas schools.

This week, hundreds of free copies of books by award-winning author Jerry Craft were sent to teachers and librarians in Texas who requested them, thanks to a collaborative effort of a New York family and bookstore. from Houston. The Craft books were temporarily withdrawn from Katy ISD, and her speaking in the district was postponed after a group of parents accused her works of containing damaging content on critical breed theory.

Craft’s books were also included in a survey launched by Republican Representative Matt Krause that asked districts to review a list of more than 850 books, most of which deal with race, gender and sexuality. The inquiry follows the state legislature’s passage of a “Critical Race Theory” law over the summer that limits the way Texas educators discuss race in schools. public schools.

Alessandra Bastagli, editorial director of New York-based publishing house Astra, partnered with Houston’s Kindred Stories bookstore to raise funds that helped purchase and distribute 200 copies of Craft “New Kid’s books. “and” Class Act “. Bastagli said that she and her children were huge Craft fans, and when they heard that her books were under review, they immediately wanted to help.

“[My children] I wanted the kids in Texas to have the same access to these books as they did in Brooklyn, ”Bastagli said. “As a family, we loved these books because they are smart, funny and relevant. They also allowed us to discuss macro and micro aggression as well as inequalities in race, class and education. “

Bastagli and her family created a GoFundMe and appealed for donations on social media, which raised $ 3,000 in just ten days to purchase the books. Donations came from parents across the country as well as authors and publishers of children’s books who knew Craft and were unhappy with the ban, she said. She contacted Terri Hamm, owner of Kindred Stories, to help her order the books and ship them from the bookstore.

“She gave me the different prices at the different bulk levels as well as an estimate of shipping costs within the state of Texas,” Bastagli said. “With the kids and my husband, we figured we could realistically raise $ 3,000. And we did.”

Bastagli said she was specifically interested in working with an independent black-owned bookstore for this effort. “India has suffered so much during the pandemic and in general as a family we prefer to buy independents,” she said. “He also had to be in Texas so that the expedition was not too expensive.”

Hamm was also furious when she learned that Craft’s books were in dispute and was looking for ways to help when Bastagli contacted her with the idea of ​​fundraising. Her bookstore was created to ensure that writers like Craft have a space to share their stories, she said. “My own son has read both ‘New Kid’ and ‘Class Act’ at least 15 times,” Hamm wrote. “It’s a story that he, and I’m sure many other kids, connect with on a very personal level. At Kindred Stories, we try to counter feelings of anger, frustration and oppression by l ‘action.”

Bastagli and Hamm have received requests via social media and emails from more than 90 teachers and librarians across the state, Bastagli said. She was moved by the request messages and photos she has since received from recipients of the Craft books. The two are still getting requests even though they only have a few copies left, Hamm said.

“As a family, we are so excited that the children of Texas now have access to 200 copies of Jerry’s books,” Bastagli said. “Our children have learned that when you think something is wrong, unfair, unfair and racist, you can organize and do something.”

Hamm said she hopes the fundraiser will show teachers and students that there are people out there who support them and want to make sure they have access to diverse stories. “I would like to encourage politicians and teachers to be open to listening and recognizing the various experiences,” she said. “Denying students access to their history and the tools that are created to help them understand the world they live in is a huge disservice.


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