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Children’s Book Reading Canceled Over Author’s Anti-Gun Tweet

“The only F words in the presentation: funny, feline, feelings." - Emma Straub

Author Emma Straub

Conservatives have been on a banning spree in an attempt to “protect” kids from anything that doesn’t fit into their parents’ worldview. But one case in Texas feels especially ridiculous.

Author Emma Straub was just starting the tour for her children’s book Very Good Hats when two of her reading events at Texas schools were canceled. Katy Independent School District claimed they were concerned over differences in “values.” Apparently, some parents threw a tantrum over Straub’s cursing.

The tweet they used as evidence? Straub venting about U.S. gun culture in the wake of the Uvalde mass shooting.

First of all, while Straub was promoting her children’s book, she has written literature for both adults and kids, so requiring her to keep her social media clean “for the children” is insane—especially when you consider that the five-year-olds she’s reading to probably aren’t on Twitter in the first place. (Or maybe they are, I don’t know what parental controls people use).

Second of all, we need to stop acting like everyone who interacts with kids needs to be in kiddie mode 100% of the time. Teachers go out on weekends; children’s book authors swear. Deal with it.

Third of all, as pointed out in this TikTok by a parent whose child attends the school, using profanity to vent about U.S. gun culture after actual children were murdered feels like a targeted attack on the politics of the tweet. This seems especially accurate considering how far back in Straub’s Twitter feed the parent had to dig in order to find it.

It wasn’t the only “political” post on her feed, either; by Straub’s own account, her tweets include “the abortion fundraiser [she] hosted at Books Are Magic, at which [they] raised more than $15,000 for abortion funds, one of [her] sons in a dress, and our ongoing Melt The Guns fundraiser for Everytown, for which [they] have raised (to date) over $25,000.”

Thankfully, a large number of people have rallied behind Emma Straub; a local bookstore stepped in to offer her a new reading location. Several parents have fought against the school’s decision and bought Straub’s books in a show of support. She has also reportedly gained a thousand new followers on Instagram, many of whom declare they “can’t wait to read her fucking book.”

All of this is well and good, but at the same time, it speaks to a larger issue regarding censorship and parents. Straub’s book isn’t even about anything that could be seen as political! But because the parents either didn’t like the author’s swearing or didn’t like the author’s politics, they felt the need to mess with Straub’s livelihood.

This isn’t even the first time the school district has pulled something like this; this district previously canceled a Black author’s children’s book readings over accusations that his books were “teaching critical race theory.”

The parents could have just said, “I don’t want my child attending this author’s reading,” and pulled their kid from the event. That would also be an overreaction, but at least it would only affect a few children instead of the author and every student, teacher, and parent who wanted the reading to happen. Remember: Readings are marketing events that authors depend on to sell their work.

While it is wonderful to see parents and local businesses come together like this, the ease with which schools can pull the rug out from under authors does not bode well for the future of children’s literature in the age of conservative fragility.

It’s truly incredible that the same party that complains “you can’t say anything anymore without getting canceled” will also pretend to get angry over language when it’s clearly more interested in punishing the politics associated with said language.

Unfortunately, it’s not likely to get any easier for now, so we’ll just have to make sure to keep calling them on their bullshit.

(featured image: Leonardo Cendamo, Getty Images)

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Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.