Berkeley County Schools committee reviews first batch of challenged books

The Berkeley County Schools' first Instructional Materials Review Committee has officially reviewed the first ten out of 93 books in question.
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 5:36 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2023 at 8:48 PM EDT
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Berkeley County Schools’ first Instructional Materials Review Committee has officially reviewed the first ten out of 93 books in question.

The committee voted to keep at least four books district-wide and three in just high schools, among others.

Profanity and explicit sexual content were two of the main points Berkeley County parent Angelina Davenport had to make about the first batch of books in question. Despite her concerns, all committee members were willing to challenge them.

“If this were a movie, we couldn’t watch it,” Davenport said. “If it was a podcast, we couldn’t listen to it. Nobody is questioning if these books aren’t good books. They aren’t appropriate for children.”

Nine of the 10 instructional material review committee members present in Tuesday’s meeting say they read all 10 books as part of the first review. Throughout the meeting, the members spoke individually about their thoughts on each book, frequently mentioning how much the content could prevent history from being erased and expose kids to harsh realities, such as rape and abuse.

“It is obvious to me,” Billy Cameron, committee member and parent, said. “It is hard. It is difficult. And at times, it is hurtful reading. But it is the truth. Our history. And as a country as a whole, as Berkeley County, we have to acknowledge what our history is. Good or bad.”

Davenport was the only parent who raised concerns about these books in Tuesday’s meeting and is the same parent who filed documents to prevent every Berkeley County middle and high school student from reading this content.

Two of the books will be reported with how split the votes were without recommendation. While the others were recommended to be read by just high schoolers or both middle and high schoolers. Only one member voted to remove a book entirely three separate times.

“When I was a young adult, I had friends ask me, ‘How do you know so much about places you’ve never been?’ Penny Hanna, committee member and BCSD parent, said. “And my answer was books. I was a voracious reader as a child and that’s how I learned about the world and the history of the world. And we need to allow our children to have that opportunity.”

Here is a full breakdown of how the committee voted on the first ten books:

Book Title
and Author
Stay in
K-12 Schools
9-12 Only
6-12 Only
From All
“Beloved” by Toni Morrison1800Grades 9-12 only
“Clockwork Princess” by Cassandra Clare1250Grades 6-12 only
“Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell3600Grades 9-12 only
“Looking for Alaska” by John Green7200All schools
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews43012 votes to restrict to
Grades 11-12
Will report votes to superintendent without
“Push” by Sapphire14013 votes to restrict to Grades 11-12Will report votes to superintendent without recommendation
“Queen of Shadows” by Sarah J. Maas7200All schools
“Sold” by Patricia McCormick6210All schools
“Unravel Me” by Tahereh Mafi5200All schools
“Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire1701Grades 9-12 only

These recommendations from the committee will now go to the Superintendent where he will make the final call, which we should hear about within the next 30 days. The committee’s next meeting will review another ten books on Oct. 26.