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Texas school district pulls books from libraries to review, including the Bible and 'Anne Frank's Diary' adaptation

Keller ISD pulled a total of 41 books to review under new policies that were passed at a board meeting last week.

KELLER, Texas — The debate over books in Texas school libraries continues.

The Keller Independent School District is now at the center of the debate after it sent an email to principals and librarians, telling them to pull 41 books that parents have challenged.

The list of 41 books includes all versions of the Bible and "Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaption." The full list can be seen here.

In a statement, the district said the books were being removed in order to review them under new policies that were approved by the school board during a meeting on Aug. 8.

According to the district, the new policies have to do with how Keller ISD acquires and reviews instructional materials and library books.

The district said all the books were challenged by parents over the last year.

"Books that meet the new guidelines will be returned to the libraries as soon as it is confirmed they comply with the new policy," the district said in a statement.

The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County wrote in a statement that they were disappointed and concerned about the decision by the district to remove an adaptation of the "Diary of Anne Frank." 

It is imperative that we teach our children about the Holocaust in age-appropriate ways, as outlined in Texas’ state standards for Holocaust education," the statement reads. "At a time of rising antisemitism, we must be particularly vigilant so that nothing like the Holocaust can ever happen again. We urge the school district to put the book back on the shelf. Our Federations will reach out to the district directly to share our concern."

Most of the books on the list had previously been approved to stay in school libraries after being reviewed by a committee.

The book debate became the hot topic at a board meeting back in March as parents turned the public comment portion into a venue to voice concerns over books in libraries.

One parent said at the March meeting, "We are fed up with pornographic materials that are still in our libraries accessible to children."

Tuesday's move comes as districts statewide face library book challenges and audits which have become a priority for some Republican lawmakers wanting to do away with books that touch on sex, gender, or race. 

In May of this year, Keller ISD was one of the districts where hundreds of thousands of dollars were dumped into fiery school board races. 

Three new conservative-leaning candidates are on the board as a result. 

For Keller ISD parent Laney Hawes, Tuesday's directive was a letdown. 

Hawes was on a committee composed of parents, teachers, and administrators that reviewed "Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaption" last spring. 

A parent challenged its contents. Hawes said the book contains illustrations that make it easier to follow along and is more approachable for students. 

"The parent who challenged the book never showed up to present their case, and it was actually a really fast committee. We all read the book and discussed it, and everyone on the committee unanimously voted to put the book right back on the library shelves," Hawes said. 

"Now, it's gone. They're taking away a historical book and a more approachable version of it, and they're taking away the voices of parents who voted to keep it. 

Hawes says she and other parents are fed up and done playing by the rules because they're constantly changing. 

"We read the books. We decided they were suitable for the shelves, and then this small group of people comes in and says we don't like your outcomes," Hawes said. 

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