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Woodland Park parents gather for discussion on banned books at public library

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- Tuesday afternoon, community members gathered at the Woodland Park Public Library to discuss banned books, after a Woodland Park High School course was recently removed from school course offerings following a complaint about a class book.

The initial complaint came from Woodland Park resident Jameson Dion, who sounded the alarm about the book "Between the World and Me," by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

"I read through the book, and I was pretty blown away by what I found in it," said Dion.

Dion filed records requests to learn what materials were being taught in a Woodland Park High School class called Civil Disobedience and took issue with seeing "Between the World and Me" on the list.

"It's a book that pretty clearly defines anybody that has a skin pigmentation of one type as the oppressor, and anybody that has a skin pigmentation type of another as the victim," claims Dion.

After Dion's complaint, the Civil Disobedience course was removed from school district offerings, and though the book has not been removed from school libraries, parents like Linen Kleppe are worried about the precedent this sets.

Klepee coordinated and moderated the Tuesday discussion on Coates' book.

"I approached the library and asked if they would like to host a community book club where we could get together with community members and kind of create a safe space to talk about something that some might consider to be controversial," said Kleppe.

The Woodland Park Public Library gladly accepted.

"Libraries, of course, are a marketplace of ideas. We're about providing an abundance of ideas. Our motto is something for everyone, and we truly believe in that, providing information and ideas for everyone," said Tim Miller, Director of the Rampart Library District.

Miller and Kleppe believe attempts to prohibit certain materials from course instruction or public consumption, jeopardize freedom and hurt the quality of educational instruction.

"Reading books are pathways to broaden your perspective rather than to narrow it down," said Kleppe. "When you ban a book when you tell someone that that person's ideas are not as good as someone else's, what does that say to our students, to our children?"

Kleppe said she hopes that the tension and controversy will encourage people to pick up Ta-Nehisi Coates' book "Between the World and Me" themselves.

"If you read one person's perspective, maybe it doesn't fit with your perspective. But now maybe you're a little more empathetic for someone else's perspective."

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Annabelle Childers

Annabelle is a reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about her here.


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