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Conservative FL Activist Seeks To Ban 'Arthur' Book Because It Could Result In 'Damaged Souls'

A 1989 book in Marc Brown's popular children's series entitled 'Arthur's Birthday' has come under scrutiny from conservative activist Bruce Friedman over a game of spin the bottle.

PBS screenshot of Arthur

Over the past year, a disturbing trend of banning universally loved books from schools in the United States has raised concerns among educators and literary enthusiasts. Now, the cherished children's book Arthur's Birthday by Marc Brown is facing censorship in Florida due to a minor reference to the innocent party game, Spin the Bottle.

Conservative activist Bruce Friedman recently lodged a complaint against the 1989 book with the Clay County School District, asserting that it is inappropriate to discuss Spin the Bottle with elementary school children. He went on to claim that the book's contents could lead to "damaged souls," as reported by The Daily Beast.

Arthur's Birthday is designed for children from kindergarten to sixth grade and follows the adventures of Arthur and his friends as they navigate the dilemma of having their birthday parties on the same day. The heartwarming story emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and friendship.

Towards the end of the book, Arthur receives a bottle labeled "Francine's Spin the Bottle Game" as a birthday gift. While the reference is innocuous and not the central theme of the story, Friedman believes it is inappropriate for children in grades K-5.

You can see the image below.

An image from "Arthur's Birthday" by writer Marc BrownJoy Street Books; @FLFreedomRead/Twitter

The Florida Freedom to Read Project, an organization dedicated to defending intellectual freedom and free access to information, has come to the defense of Arthur's Birthday on Twitter.

The organization argued that the book promotes inclusivity and teaches children the value of inviting all friends, regardless of gender, to their birthday celebrations.

Earlier, the organization shared a link to a list of books that have been challenged by Friedman—who has filed more than 700 complaints—in the Clay County School District.

The list includes such titles as William Styron's Sophie's Choice—an exploration of the post-war consequences of the Holocaust—and even, ironically, Nicholas J. Karolides' 120 Banned Books.

Many have condemned Friedman's actions, which are part of an ongoing conservative pushback against public education.

As the controversy unfolds, a decision on whether to remove Arthur's Birthday from schools in Florida is currently "pending oversight committee review."

Friedman serves as the president of the Florida chapter of No Left Turn in Education, which describes itself as "a national grassroots movement of common-sense parents and community members from diverse backgrounds, building generational integrity through education free from indoctrination."

During the previous academic year, Friedman addressed a committee at the Florida Department of Education tasked with recommending library regulations and revealed that he had meticulously compiled a list of 3,600 books that, in his opinion, contained "concerning content."

He went on to share that due to the presence of such content, he had forbidden his son from visiting his high school library.