Texas Librarian Keeps Secret Shelf Of Banned Books For High School Students To Read

Books are the gateway to knowledge.

woman at library Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz / Pexels 

Standing up to political decisions that we disagree with often seems too difficult to put into action. We might ask ourselves, where do I start? Will what I do make any difference? 

One public school official in Texas is fighting back against the Texas State Board of Education, despite the negative repercussions she could face.

A Texas librarian keeps a secret shelf of banned books for high school students to read.

In April 2023, the Texas State Board of Education passed HB 900, a bill that prohibits public schools from providing “sexually explicit, pervasively vulgar, or educationally unsuitable books” to students. The bill is also known as the READER Act, Restricting Explicit & Adult Designated Educational Resources. It defines “sexually explicit material” as material that “described, depicted, or portrayed sexual conduct in a way that was patently offensive.”


Yet efforts of book banning occurred even before the READER Act was instituted. In 2021, Matt Krause, the state Representative at the time, sent out a list of 850 books he wanted banned from public schools, as they might "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex."

When confronted with Krause’s list, the unnamed librarian took action, setting up her secret shelf. Much of the clandestine content centered around marginalized groups, like LGBTQ+ topics and the Latino community.

RELATED: The Scholastic Book Fair Seems To Be Hiding Behind 'Protecting Teachers' Instead Of Taking A Clear Stand Against Banning Books




The librarian told NPR, "The books that make you uncomfortable are the books that make you think. "Isn't that what school is supposed to do? It's supposed to make you think?"

The secret bookshelf serves as a place for students to access material that reflects their lives.

As one student explained, "Having these books, having these stories out there meant a lot to me, because I felt seen.”

Texas Librarian Keeps Secret Shelf Of Banned Books For High School Students To ReadPhoto: Sherman Trotz / Pexels 


If books are a reflection of the world around us, we should want future generations to have access to a wide range of experiences. They should be able to find themselves within the pages, so as to validate their lived experience. Yet they should also find alternate experiences to their own, which is a major way of building empathy and compassion.

RELATED: Teen Refuses To Visit Father After His New Wife Attempts To 'Censor' What He Reads

The U.S. Court of Appeals recently blocked part of the Reader Act, which would have required book publishers and booksellers to rate material sold to schools for sexual content. While the fight against book banning isn’t close to being over, the librarian noted that she’s not backing down anytime soon.

“I intend for this library to just keep growing,” she shared.


Texas Librarian Keeps Secret Shelf Of Banned Books For High School Students To ReadPhoto: Tima Miroshnichenko / Pexels 

Schools are a place where students should be able to expand their worldviews and question the status quo. Without books showing a variety of experiences and identities, how can we expect them to learn? High school, especially, is a place for young people to uncover and qualify the layers of their own identities. 

Book banning brings up larger sociopolitical issues, raising the question of who gets to deem what offensive, and for what purpose. The question becomes, What is the world saying to queer kids, to kids of color, by banning books where they’re represented? Banning books sends a message that not everyone is free to exist and express their truest selves. 


The librarian is continuously putting her professional livelihood on the line to show her students that they matter. Her radical act of resistance is not only heroic, it’s the very definition of community care.

RELATED: Teacher Explains Why She Has To Come In On A Saturday To Protect Her Classroom's Books — 'The Kids Wanna Read'

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.