Access to books in schools
The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is disappointed by the decision of the Board of Trustees of Keller ISD to remove, pending further review, 41 books that were challenged by at least one parent last year, including an illustrated adaptation of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, the Bible, and books addressing racism and LGBTQ+ themes. We understand that this issue is not limited to Keller ISD and that efforts are underway in other Texas districts to remove books from libraries and classrooms.
As an educational institution, we support academic freedom and open intellectual inquiry. Parents should have the ability to determine what their children read but should not make those decisions for other students. It is imperative that school districts follow a thoughtful and carefully defined process when determining appropriate reading materials that ensures parental choice but does not limit freedom of thought or expression.
As a museum focused on teaching the Holocaust and advancing human rights, we know that literature, testimony and stories help make history accessible and understandable. Anne Frank’s diary has brought the Holocaust to life for millions of people and encouraged them to learn more about this dark chapter in human history. It has provided a window into a world unknown and unimaginable to many. Censorship is counterproductive to an informed and educated citizenry. This is why the banning and burning of books was one of the earliest methods employed by the Nazis to gain control of the hearts and minds of German citizens.
History that is not learned risks being repeated. Thus, we urge Keller ISD and other school districts to ensure schoolchildren have access to books that spark the critical thinking and intellectual exploration central to civic engagement and the continuing health of our democracy.
Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO
Mark Zilbermann, board chairman
Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum