National poll finds Americans support freedom to read

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National poll finds Americans support freedom to read

Mar 24 2023

Iowa’s Grinnell College and Seltzer & Co., a polling company in Des Moines, which partner to conduct a national poll each year on the attitudes of Americans towards politics and political figures, as well as hot-button cultural issues, released their latest data Wednesday. The findings regarding controversial books and their accessibility in public schools should hearten librarians and booksellers everywhere. Three of the 16 questions addressed books in middle school libraries considered contentious or divisive because they explore sexuality, race and racism, or religion.

In response to a question on whether such books should be included in public middle school library collections, a majority of respondents agreed that students should have access to books addressing the following subjects: sexual orientation (56%), racism in the U.S. (76%), gender identity (57%), the Bible (84%), creationism (67%), and the Quran (67%).

A follow-up question asked to what degree various groups should have a role in deciding what books should be included in public middle school collections. A majority of respondents, 57%, said that school librarians should play a major role in making such decisions, while 55% of respondents said students also should, and 53% said families of students should as well. Although 44% of the respondents said that local elected school boards should weigh in on such a matter, only 17% said that state elected officials should get involved.

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