Top Picks For You

*These* Are the Books Florida Doesn’t Want Your Kids to Read

Raising educated, worldly kids in a beautiful state can be a struggle when faced with book bans.

I live in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law, and the statue of David’s penis recently became the subject of a fiery debate that questioned whether the famous nude statue is pornography. There are many wonderful things about living in Florida—from its incredible beaches and diverse wildlife to its near-perfect weather and natural beauty. But then there are the Sunshine State’s divisive politics, which have recently come after the books in our public schools.

It’s important to note that there’s no statewide book ban in Florida (yet), but individual counties are already removing titles from their libraries. Here are just a few of the books that Florida doesn’t want you (and especially your kids) to be reading.

1 OF 10

‘I am Jazz’ by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel

Written by a transgender activist who grew up in South Florida, I am Jazz was one of the most-banned picture books in the United States during the 2021-2022 school year, according to the non-profit free expression-defending organization, PEN America. So, of course, several Florida counties, including Palm Beach County, moved to remove it from their classrooms. Featuring an LGBTQ storyline aimed at drawing attention to transgender issues, the book is about the life of author Jazz Jennings, who has identified as female since age five.

2 OF 10

‘When Aidan Became a Brother’ by Kyle Lukoff

Also on PEN America’s list of most-banned children’s picture books from the 2021-2022 school year, When Aidan Became a Brother, won the 2020 Stonewall Book Award. The book follows a young transgender boy’s evolution from when he first came out to becoming a big brother. The book is about Aidan’s loving family learning to embrace his identity and learning to show love for the new baby arriving in the home, whoever he, she, or they will choose to become. Escambia County (home to Pensacola in Florida’s Panhandle) and Jacksonville’s Duval County have already banned the book.

3 OF 10

‘And Tango Makes Three’ by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Are you noticing a theme yet? Even penguins are in trouble in the Sunshine State, where Lake County has banned another harmless book in the name of Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law. And Tango Makes Three is the heartwarming story of two male penguins who–gasp!—adopt an egg together. It’s based on the true story of two male penguins from the Central Park Zoo who raised an egg that wasn’t theirs and cared for it as their own baby penguin.

4 OF 10

‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison

In January, Florida’s Pinellas County banned Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, published in 1970 and highly lauded as a work of adolescent literature that challenges racism and white beauty standards. The book was banned allegedly because of the novel’s sexual content and dark themes. The ban sprang from complaints from a local mother who said it exposed kids to pedophilia through explicit sex scenes.

5 OF 10

‘The Gift of Ramadan’ by Rabiah York Lumbard

Northern Florida’s Duval County, home to Jacksonville, is a heavy hitter regarding book bans, so far banning more than 175 books from its public school classrooms. Among them is The Gift of Ramadan, which explores several generations of a family and how they take part in Ramadan, the Islamic holiday. Is Duval County mad because Sophia’s grandma tells her that fasting will make her sparkly, even though the little girl doesn’t manage the feat? I’m seriously shaking my head while ordering it ASAP to expose my kids to world religions.

6 OF 10

‘The Double Life of Pocahontas’ by Jean Fritz

Newbery Honor-winner Jean Fritz’s biographical book about the true life of Pocahontas and her struggles moving between the Indian and white worlds has also been banned in Duval County. Could it be because The Double Life of Pocahontas shares a less glossy account of Pocahontas’ interactions with Jamestown colonists, who kidnapped and forced her to live like a white woman? Again, just shaking my head here while adding more books to my reading list.

7 OF 10

‘Forever’ by Judy Blume

Martin County, which includes the town of Stuart on Florida’s east coast, has a big beef with Judy Blume’s Forever. It’s the story of a young couple’s first relationship, virginity lost, the concept of questioning being with someone forever, and many other things that many teenagers confront. But Martin County removed it from school bookshelves due to its sexual content, as if pre-teens and teens don’t have enough access to that on their mobile devices.

8 OF 10

‘My Sister’s Keeper’ by Jodi Picoult

Another book Martin County has to keep from its students is The New York Times bestseller My Sister’s Keeper, about a girl who sues her parents for the right to her own body. The book is banned due to its sexually explicit content, homosexual themes, and tendencies to address other topics, such as drugs and suicide.

9 OF 10

‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ by George M. John

An “LGBTQ agenda” is among the (inane) reasons for banning this book that explores what it’s like to grow up Black and queer. Florida’s Escambia County, which banned All Boys Aren’t Blue in public schools, took particular issue with the sexual encounters and an instance of sexual assault that the author, a prominent journalist, and LBGTQIA+ activist, details in the memoir.

10 OF 10

‘The Life of Rosa Parks’ by Kathleen Connors

This book about the legendary Rosa Parks, who refused to give her seat up to a white person on the bus, helping to initiate the Civil Rights movement, has been inexplicably banned in Duval County public schools.

amzdtrav3l May 29, 2023

Parent involvement should extend to supervising what their own children read. A single parent or even group of right wing conservatives should not be able to ban books preventing access to the broader population of students. I wonder if these book banning parents also restrict internet access from their children, or if that's the next step on their agenda. The issues written about don't go away just because you remove the book. You just isolate the child dealing with it & prevent them from knowing they are not alone.Removing The Life of Rosa Parks is racist & an attempt to obliterate history.