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York County school district removes two popular books from library shelves

"Push" by Sapphire and "A Court of Mist and Fury" by Sarah J. Mass were both removed from shelves following complaints of sexual content.

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — One York County school district has removed two popular books from the shelves of the high school after parents expressed concerns about their content. 

Now, district officials say they're planning a new system to rate books that may be deemed offensive. 

Students in Central York School District are no longer allowed to read two well-known novels without a teacher. In a message sent to parents last week, district superintendent Dr. Peter Aiken revealed the book "Push" by Sapphire was removed from the high school library following a parent complaint. 

A district review committee deemed it inappropriate for independent reading, citing sexual content and poor literary structure. 

The novel was adapted into the Academy Award-winning 2009 film "Precious." 

Mina Edmonson, director of Martin Library in Downtown York, says the book's main character faces abuse. 

"It's talking about the way she coped with what was happening to her life. It is challenging material at times, but a lot of things that happen to us in our lives are challenging," said Edmondson. 

A second book, the #1 New York Times Best Seller "A Court of Mist and Fury" by Sarah J. Mass was also taken from the shelves. 

The district says a parent complaint about sexual content in the young adult fantasy romance novel prompted the review and subsequent removal. 

Both books are popular selections at libraries across the county. In fact, when FOX43 asked to see copies of the books... 

"They're both checked out and they're checked out all across York County libraries," said Edmonson. "There's multiple copies, especially of a teen series. Her books are checked out all the time. Holds are placed on them. They're moving throughout the county continually." 

Central York's superintendent says he wants to avoid more page-turning controversy. 

In 2021, the district reversed a decision to ban several books showcasing diversity after local opposition and national attention. 

The district is now proposing a new rating system that would assign a label to books that contain content deemed inappropriate and leave the rest up to parents. 

"We will work to identify those books which may contain material not all families are comfortable with. In turn, as the parent [or] guardian, you will have the power to approve/disapprove of the independent reading material for your son or daughter," said Dr. Aiken. 

FOX43 asked what criteria would be used during the vetting process, how long it would take to review every book in the district and how the system would be enforced. 

A district spokesperson says librarians are working on the details, "This is something we are going to take time to look at and make sure that we are doing it correctly." 

The school board will vote on changing its instructional review policy on March 27. If it passes, the district could then add the rating system to its administrative regulations. 

Central York School District encourages parents to provide public comment on these potential changes or reach out to the superintendent directly to start a conversation. 

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