Media Contact

Paul Bowers, Communications Director:

February 8, 2024

SUMMERVILLE – In the largest recent attack on the freedom to read in South Carolina schools, a book-banning activist has demanded that 160 books be removed from Dorchester School District 2. The ACLU of South Carolina urges the Dorchester 2 school board to stick to its existing policies and reject this book-banning attempt at its next meeting February 12. 

In December, one person submitted a spreadsheet of 572 titles that she wanted the district to purge from its classrooms and libraries. According to district records, only 160 of those titles were present in the schools at the time of the request. The challenged books include contemporary classics like Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, 20th-century masterpieces like Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and award-winning young adult novels like I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez.

This total exceeds the scale of mass book ban attempts in Berkeley County Schools (where 93 titles were challenged in 2023) and Beaufort County Schools (where 97 books were pulled from shelves in 2022 and all but 5 were ultimately returned after a lengthy review). 

“School board members should take courage in the fact that copy-and-paste book ban requests like this one are both immensely unpopular and clearly prohibited under existing district policy. We encourage the district to throw this book challenge in the recycling bin and continue the vital work of education,” said ACLU-SC Executive Director Jace Woodrum. 

The ACLU-SC makes the following recommendations: 

First, the school board should be aware of the coordinated nationwide effort to harass educators and purge books, particularly those by LGBTQ+ and Black authors. The ACLU of South Carolina has tracked hundreds of book challenges in 12 counties since 2020 and is currently suing the Pickens County School District over its politically and racially motivated ban on the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

Second, we believe the board should adhere to its own policies regarding book challenges, which are an effective safeguard against mass book bans. Board Policy IJL (Library Materials Selection and Adoption) clearly states that book challenges may only come from a parent or guardian of a student in the district. This person must complete a challenge form for one book at a time and submit it to their child’s school principal. An in-school materials review committee will then review a book within 30 days, at which point the parent or guardian may appeal to a District Citizen’s Review Committee. 

What we have seen instead is that one person with no children in the district submitted an entire spreadsheet of books that she wanted to ban. Instead of reading the books and filling out forms demonstrating her comprehension of the material, she copied and pasted ratings from the book-banning clearinghouse websites BookLooks and Rated Books

Third, the board should consider the damage done to students' learning environment by overriding the judgment of school librarians and teachers. The book banners want the district to remove books that were already selected and approved by educators. Overriding their judgment without a public due process is a disservice both to students' education and an insult to the professional expertise of educators. At a time when schools are already struggling with a staffing crisis, Dorchester 2 can scarcely afford to chase its employees away. 

The following is a list of titles currently held in Dorchester 2 schools that book-banning activists are seeking to remove. The full PDF showing all 600+ challenged books, including ones that were not on school shelves, is available at the bottom of the page or via the Dorchester 2 school board minutes

A Child Called “It” by David Pelzer 

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin 

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin 

A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 by George R.R. Martin 

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee 

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Duggard 

All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell 

Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson 

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher 

America by E.R. Frank 

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King 

Assassination Classroom, Vols. 1-8 and 11 by Yusei Matsui 

Beloved by Toni Morrison 

Blankets by Craig Thompson 

Boy Girl Boy by Ron Koertge 

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga 

Brave New World: A Graphic Novel by Aldous Huxley, adapted by Fred Fordham 

Bumped by Megan McCafferty 

Burned by Ellen Hopkins 

Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier 

Chosen by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast 

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare 

Collected Poems, 1947-1980 by Allen Ginsberg 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas 

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler 

Crank by Ellen Hopkins 

Damsel by Elana Arnold 

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics 

Dime by E.R. Frank 

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi 

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer 

Fade by Lisa McMann 

Fallout by Ellen Hopkins 

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender 

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk 

Flamer by Mike Curato 

Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi 

Forever for a Year by B.T. Gottfred 

Forever… by Judy Blume 

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero 

Glass by Ellen Hopkins 

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous 

Grit by Gillian French 

Grl2Grl by Julie Anne Peters 

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson 

Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler 

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi 

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin 

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 

I Never by Laura Hopper 

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson 

Identical by Ellen Hopkins 

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins 

Infandous by Elana K. Arnold 

It’s Perfectly Normal, Fifth Edition by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley 

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera 

Juliet Takes a Breath: A Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera 

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas 

L8r, G8r by Lauren Myracle 

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo 

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison 

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester 

LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field: Striving for Equality by Kirstin Cronn-Mills 

Life is Funny by E.R. Frank 

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian 

Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert 

Looking for Alaska by John Green 

Love Lies Beneath by Ellen Hopkins 

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk 

Man O’ War by Cory McCarthy 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews 

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson 

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera 

Native Son by Richard Wright 

Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman 

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult 

Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth 

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez 

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins 

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins 

Push by Sapphire 

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas 

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson 

Red Hood by Elana Arnold 

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley 

Rumble by Ellen Hopkins 

Shine by Lauren Myracle 

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut 

Slaughterhouse-Five: A Graphic Novel by Kurt Vonnegut with Ryan North and Albert Monteys 

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins 

Sold by Patricia McCormick 

Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount 

Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Spinning by Tillie Walden 

Storm and Fury: Harbinger, Book 1 by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki 

Tangled Webs by Lee Bross 

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein 

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta 

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson 

The Book of Pride: LGBTQ Heroes by Mason Funk 

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley 

The Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood and Ash Series) by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

The Duff: A Novel by Kody Keplinger 

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis 

The Fixer by Bernard Malamud 

The Freedom Writers Diary by The Freedom Writers 

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

The Haters by Jesse Andrews 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 

The Kite Runner: A Graphic Novel by Khaled Hosseini with Fabio Celoni and Mirka Andolfo 

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (this book is listed twice) 

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski 

The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo 

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli 

The War of Two Queens (Blood and Ash Series) by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki 

Tilt by Ellen Hopkins 

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas 

Traffick by Ellen Hopkins 

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins 

TTYL by Lauren Myracle 

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi 

Vampire Academy (Book 1) by Richelle Mead 

Vanilla by Billy Merrell 

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen 

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchison 

What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold 

Where I End and You Begin by Preston Norton 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire 

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi