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Politics and Children's Books: Evidence from School Library Collections

Most public schools have a library on site, but little is known about the quality or content of school library programs. I use web-scraping techniques to collect original data on hundreds of titles in over 6,600 school libraries to identify patterns in library resources and content. Three primary findings emerge. First, gaps exist in library resources and collection quality, particularly between schools in low- and high-income areas. Second, although books with “controversial content” are widely available, the prevalence of these titles is related to local politics, state laws, and social environments. Libraries in conservative areas are less likely to have books that deal with LGBTQ+ issues, race/racism, or abortion and more likely to have discontinued Dr. Seuss and Christian fiction titles. Third, book challenges in the 2021-22 school year have had “chilling effects” on the acquisition of new LGBTQ+ content.

Keywords
school libraries; politics and public schools; anti-CRT; book challenges; race/gender/sexuality
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/nt5f-fb03

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Mumma, Kirsten Slungaard. (). Politics and Children's Books: Evidence from School Library Collections. (EdWorkingPaper: 22-693). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/nt5f-fb03

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