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by Michele Skalicky, KSMU-Ozarks Public Radio

A new book club in Springfield focuses on material that’s been challenged or banned outright from library shelves.

The Communities Reading Together Book Club, hosted by the Springfield-Greene County Library District, launches this week as the district observes national Banned Books Week.

Krystal Smith, a manager in the reference department at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library, started the club.

“There’s been a lot of talk about banning books and all that kind of thing going on over the past year,” said Smith. “So it seems like a good time to kind of have an opportunity for people to get together and read all these books they’re seeing in the news.”

The September book title is “Dear Martin” by Nic Stone. It’s a novel allegedly tied to a decision not to renew a southwest Missouri teacher’s contract last spring. The Springfield-News Leader reported in April that Kim Morrison, an English teacher at Greenfield High School, used a worksheet titled, “How Racially Privileged Are You?” while teaching the book in an elective contemporary literature class. The vote not to renew her contract came shortly after that assignment.

Smith said discussion at the first meeting will focus on the reasons “Dear Martin” might be banned — and why, even though someone might not want their child to read the book, it might be important for others to have access to it.

“Books can serve as mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors,” said Smith “I think this book is a really good representation of that because you can see yourself in the mirror of the book, you can look through the window of the book and see into somebody else’s life. And then you can use that sliding glass door to kind of use your imagination and become part of the story.”

The first meeting of the Communities Reading Together Book Club will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 22, at BookMarx, 325 E. Walnut in Springfield. Teenagers ages 15 and older may attend with a parent or guardian.

During Banned Books Week, library branches are featuring book displays of challenged or banned books through the years.

Find out more at thelibrary.org.

This story is available as part of a collaboration between KSMU Public Radio and the Springfield Daily Citizen. To see the original content, click here.

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