Alabama librarians be warned: there may be Amish romance on your shelves.
In just over a month since the Alabama Public Library Service opened submissions to its library blacklist, 82 titles have been submitted and validated.
About a third of those books come from a list of “inappropriate” titles on the website of Clean Up Alabama, a group targeting LGBTQ books in libraries statewide as well as some books with sexual or racial content.
The list is a direct response to the complaints of Clean Up Alabama and like-minded groups, who have appeared before the APLS board and local libraries time and time again to express discontent with books containing gender ideology and sexual content on shelves.
But alongside those books, 15 Amish romance novels from author Linda Byler have been challenged, as well as five “Left Behind” speculative fiction novels that tell of life during the “Great Tribulation” period prophesied by many evangelical churches.
Five children’s books by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, all in the “Rush Revere” series, have also been challenged.
The inclusion of these books is an apparent response from the other side of the issue, likely to make the list meaningless as a tool for librarians to move or remove books.
Some of the LGBTQ+ books with the least amount of sexual content now appear on the list—for instance, “Red: A Crayon’s Story,” which tells the story of a blue crayon in a red wrapper, and “Bye Bye Binary,” a story about a baby who defies gender norms such as deciding between a pink or blue blanket.
Some others include “Door By Door: How Sarah McBride Became the First Openly Transgender Senator,” “Being You: A First Conversation About Gender,” “My Rainbow,” and “The Meaning of Pride.” All of these books were originally challenged by Clean Up Alabama at the Autauga Prattville Public Library, and the library board decided to keep each and every one of them in its place.
On the other side of the coin are the Amish romances, books by Rush Limbaugh, and children’s spin-offs of the “Left Behind” series. The Amish romances do contain steamy scenes, but would not likely be found in sections intended for minors. The Limbaugh and “Left Behind” books would be in the young adult section, and appear to be challenged based on political or religious ideology.
Some of the challenged books do contain sexual content, such as “Bumped” and at least three books from author Sarah J. Maas. At the Prattville library, the Maas books have already been moved to a “new adult” section meant for adults between the ages of 18-25. “Bumped” tells a dystopian story where girls under 18 are the only people who can bear children, creating a situation in which the young girls are paid to bear children. The story has a message opposing this disturbing situation, which is used to examine how girls and women are treated in society, particularly when it comes to sex.
The APLS board is set to discuss the list at its upcoming meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the APLS office.