Kyra and Phallon Pierce, teen twins known as “The Pierce Twins.” They were recently featured on the news after discovering a book on their school summer reading list entitled “And Then There Were None”, by Agatha Christie, was originally named “Ten Little N***s”. The book was later changed to its current name. In addition to the original title, they learned there was a racist nursery rhyme that was a significant plot point. This did not sit well with them and sparked a need to remove bigoted and offensive books from their school’s summer reading lists.
This issue inspired them to do more as they saw the lack of diversity, specifically African-American authors on summer reading lists, elementary school literature courses, and school libraries. They created an age-appropriate diverse book list for young readers.
Illinois State Representative La Shawn K. Ford introduced Bill HB3254 which will mandate that a school district (including a charter school) shall require that books that are included as a part of any course, material, instruction, reading assignment, or other school curricula related to literature during the school year or that appear on summer reading lists must include books that are written by diverse authors, including, but not limited to, authors who are African American, women, Native American, LatinX, and Asian.
Provides that reading material may not perpetuate bias against persons based on specified categories. Provides that for any school district utilizing federal funds under Title I, Part A of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the selection of each book to be included in a reading assignment, course material and instruction, or other school curricula related to literature must first receive prior approval from the school board before the book may be included. Provides that the criteria for the approval or denial of a book shall be determined by school board policy, but the minimum requirement is that the book may not be approved by the school board if the book contains language or material that is derogatory or racist or incites hate against any persons. Provides for rulemaking and guidelines. Effective immediately. The Bill will be called The Pierce Twins Law.