Here is a great headline this week in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "School librarians in Missouri pull books as new law allows charges for 'explicit' material". As the article explains, "The law goes into effect Aug. 28 and applies to both public and private schools. It was part of a state bill addressing various sexual assault and other crimes and creating a “sexual assault survivors bill of rights.” The law defines explicit sexual material as any visual depiction of sex acts or genitalia, with exceptions for artistic or scientific significance."
This new Missouri law does not affect the written word, only images — yet school libraries are removing many books. Why? Turns out that many books in school libraries today are not novels, but comic books. Even books that started as full-length works of fiction have been repackaged as onillustratis. These new books put the "graphic" in "graphic novels"; nothing is left to the imagination in this collection of books marketed to children.
Just why do students need illustrated books? Because they are unable to read written words! The average proficiency in English in Missouri schools statewide is 43 percent, which means that a majority of Missouri students cannot read at grade level. In some school districts, more than 90 percent of students are failing English.
Instead of solving the problem of illiteracy, schools have stacked their libraries with illustrated books that contain few words. These books are not literature, but spoon-feeding pictograms to our illiterate students.
Some people have expressed outrage that the school libraries are removing books. The real outrage is that our students have not been taught how to read books without pictures on every page.
Anne Schlafly Cori is the daughter of Phyllis Schlafly and Chairman of Eagle Forum.