YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — Thousands of books about diversity are now in the hands of students in Central York, after being banned in their school district. A book giveaway happened on Wednesday night in Cousler Park. It was inspired by the fight over the banned book list.
In August, Central York School District leaders sent an email to staff with a list of books that they weren’t allowed to use in the classroom. The books were about diversity and many were written by authors of color. The ban drew protests and frustration from the community. Eventually, the school board reversed it.
Hannah Shipley shared what was happening on TikTok and made an Amazon wishlist of the banned books. Donations came in from across the country. That’s why they organized the giveaway. Within minutes of the event starting, all the books had been given out to community members.
Local mom Rachel Thiessen came with her daughter Rue to get books.
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“I think it’s important for kids to have racial mirrors that look like them and be able to read books from authors from all different cultures and all different races,” Thiessen said.
Teacher Patricia Jackson celebrated the turnout.
“I am sad that it had to come to this but I am warmed by the community, they have spoken,” Jackson said.
In total, they gave out around 4,500 books.
“Honestly I’m in shock because I was not expecting to get rid of them,” Shipley said.
Parent and educator Kenneth White brought his son and daughter to get some of the books from the giveaway.
“We all can grow and learn, both from our history but also the rich tapestry that makes up our America. We find that in our books, our literature, and our art. And they need to be able to celebrate that and get that,” White said.
The event even attracted the support of Pa.’s Second Lady Gisele Barreto Fetterman.
“To see a community come together to respond to something that we saw that was unjust is really beautiful,” Fetterman said.
For those who fought the ban from the beginning the community support was really meaningful.
“When you see what you’re advocating for and see the fruits of your labor it’s all really worth it because this is amazing,” Gupta said.
Some of the students may still be learning to read, but the moral of this story is clear.
“To never stop reading books you love,” Rue Thiessen said.
Books from the Amazon wish list have been arriving daily, so they’re still expecting more deliveries. The plan is to donate those books too.