‘Everywhere Babies’, a picture book celebrating infants, becomes latest book banned in Florida

·3 min read
‘Everywhere Babies,” a book by author Susan Meyers, has been banned in a dozen schools in Walton County, Florida, despite receiving high praise from parenting groups and appearing on numerous Best Books lists (Susan Meyers)

A picture book called Everywhere Babies, which celebrates infants, is the latest book to be banned in Florida schools.

The Washington Post reports that the book was the target of a ban in a dozen school libraries in Walton County, Florida.

The district's superintendent, Russel Hughes, told WJGH-TV that it was "necessary in this moment for me to make that decision and I did it for just a welfare of all involved, including our constituents, our teachers, and our students."

Other books – mainly those dealing with topics like race, LGBTQ people, sex or other topics deemed inappropriate for children by a largely conservative group of parents and non-parents – have been banned in districts across the country over the last several months.

Susan Meyers, the book's author, said she was inspired to write the children's book by her five-month-old grandson and her memories of Nativity scenes in which adults are gathered in awe around the infant Jesus.

The book has been celebrated on Best Books lists and is a frequent recommendation among new parent groups, but apparently ran afoul of the Florida school district and its constituents.

Ms Meyers told the Washington Post she only learned her book had been banned after a reporter reached out to her for comment.

"And I thought, 'Oh, my God, I’m banned! Wow!' I mean, I’ve been following all this book-banning stuff and wondering what is wrong with these people," she said. "And they’re only bringing more attention to these books — there are plenty of people who will then seek them out and want to read them. So I wasn’t really upset."

She said that her book has been included in lists of LGBTQ-friendly children's books and suspects that is how the school board determined her book should be banned.

Ms Meyers said she believes the book was targeted due to a single image depicting a male same-sex couple embracing.

She noted that the book had received isolated complaints in the past from individuals objecting to the inclusion of the same-sex couple, but never anything as significant as a school district banning it outright.

The author said that despite the occasional complaints, her book has been "overwhelmingly embraced."

"It’s been celebrated. I’ve talked to women who run childbirth preparation classes, and some of them give out a copy of that book to every new mother in the class," she said. "And it’s been selling well since 2001. There have been many different editions."

Ms Meyers warned parents that they need to "open their eyes" and encouraged those who disagree with the censorship of books to attend their local school board meetings.

"Authoritarian and fascist communities, this is what they always go for, they always burn the books. It actually shows the power of books," she said. "If they didn’t have any power, they wouldn’t be burning or banning them. So that’s one thing to remember and celebrate: The power of books."