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Leander students, parents gather to support freedom of choice in school libraries

Leander ISD parents and students said books should be readily accessible to all.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Saturday, Leander ISD parents and staff gathered at Elizabeth Milburn Park to support students and their ability to freely choose what books they'd like to read.

The event was hosted by Spring into FReadom, a group that believes all books should be readily accessible to students.

A Vandergrift High School student, Ella Scott, co-founded the Banned Book Club at her school. They read books Leander ISD banned from classroom libraries and book clubs. Through this club, Scott wants students to have a voice in what books are reviewed and deemed appropriate for high school students.

"When you take away these books, you take away these amazing stories that we can all learn from," said Scott.

The district removed 11 books from the curriculum. Some of them, Scott said, provide great learning opportunities.

"'Out of Darkness' was a book that we read," she added. "It was just talking about a new side of the story that we never really shown in our classrooms. And it was just interesting to see that new perspective."

At Saturday's Spring into FReadom event, Leander ISD library coordinator Beck Calzada said the decision to read or not read a book should be left to each student.

"We know that every book may not fit every child," she said. "Libraries are places of voluntary inquiry. If you don't like a book, you don't have to check it out. So it's all about choice."

Stephani Bercu is a Leander ISD parent who helped organize the group. She agrees with Calzada.

"I support parents making decisions for their own children," said Bercu. "I think we have to trust our educated professionals, both our educators and our librarians at being able to curate selections that are appropriate for kids at different ages, stages and learning levels."

In the meantime, Scott hopes the books make their way back to the schools.

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