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Book Challenges Made Visible: Scars by Cheryl Rainfield challenged in Tn

Scars has been challenged by a patron at the Boone County Public Library. A book challenge is painful for the author (who invested his or herself in the creation) and the librarian (who purchases each title knowing it will reach a specific reader). You can read author Cheryl Rainfield’s responses here:

Scars is a wonderful book that addresses many sensitive issues that people react to. I want them to feel uncomfortable when they read about this because when you feel uncomfortable, you do something about it like reach out to help others.  I reviewed Scars last June and admitted that I had personal concerns about where to place the title.You can follow my own questioning and the response when I first placed it in a child’s hands.

I do not want any library to ban or censor this book. Discussion is good. Banning is bad. Sometimes books are more appropriate for different levels of readers for usual placement. This doesn’t mean we should deny access when a different level seeks a particular title since every reader is unique.

These issues in Scars are issues that must be brought to the open. Cutting is real. Sexual abuse is real. Being forced to keep silent about abuse is real. These things happen and we as adults must provide help for healing to occur.

A patron’s request to reconsider a title is not a terrible thing. It is an opportunity to communicate with the parent why something was chosen and why it is needed. There are times when the discussion feels bad. It can be uncomfortable. It can be annoying. It can be irritating to have to drop everything and deal with. It can be professionally uplifting to guide everyone through the process. And, it can bother you constantly until it’s over.

I have not had many challenges that caused the book to be removed. When the procedure is properly followed, it works. Some systems have procedures in place that need adjusting. For example, I know of a school where they are not allowed to share or consider book reviews when the committee looks at a book. The review committee members are only to read the book for themselves. Why on earth would you tolerate keeping people ignorant of the larger picture and deny them information? Every member of the committee should be able to read the author’s response to this and the reviews. If it were taken to court, the author would have the right to face her accuser.

I appreciate Cheryl’s very open and moving response. Now, I think I’ll go check the high school collections near me to see if any of them need me to donate a copy of Scars to their collection. That’s how important I feel it is to enable readers to connect with this title.


  1. Diane–WOW. Thank you so much for your thoughtful, passionate response to the challenge of Scars! I so very much appreciate your voice and what you said. And it’s really good to hear that the procedure for dealing with challenges in libraries usually works. I know librarians are incredible advocates. And I know I want books teens need to keep reaching them. Diane–thank you so very, very much.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Diane, and for pushing out the ‘elephant’ in the room.

  3. Wondering if my comment went through????

  4. “A book challenge is painful for the author….” I thought a book challenge results in improved sales for the author’s work. No?

  5. Lisa Von Drasek Diane Chen says:

    Hey Dan,
    Does A book challenge result in improved sales? I think that’s a great question to ask. Would a publisher want a book to be challenged in hopes that it will improve sales? I don’t really think so. But, there are many publishers that read this blog so let’s see if any of them respond. Would a publisher and the author want the publicity of a challenge? Does a challenge cause some libraries to NOT purchase the book in case it will be challenged with them? Does a challenge bring the title to more audiences so the book is purchased by a better match? Does a challenge statistically and financially help sales?
    What about the emotional impact on the author?

  6. Yes, thank you Diane for sharing this news and being so passionate about the book — and as Cheryl said, explaining the procedure.