A school district near Houston said Thursday that it had returned an award-winning children's book to its library shelves and rescheduled a virtual appearance by its author after a review committee had determined the book's "appropriateness" amid parents’ claims that it espoused critical race theory.
The book's illustrator and writer, Jerry Craft, whose books tell stories about Black children struggling to fit into unfamiliar settings, had been set to appear virtually this month at Roosevelt Alexander Elementary School until the Katy Independent School District scrapped the event after some parents objected.
Craft's graphic novel "New Kid" was awarded the John Newbery Medal last year. It tells the story of seventh-grader Jordan Banks and how he navigates his worlds at home and at a prestigious private school where he is one of the few minority students.
The school district said in a statement to NBC News on Thursday afternoon that its review committee had met this week and “determined the appropriateness of the book, ‘New Kid.’”
“The reading material is already back on District library shelves and the virtual author visit is scheduled to take place on October 25 as part of the instructional day,” the district said in its statement.
The district said library books are “routinely reviewed through this process.”
Last week, the district said that Craft's books had been "temporarily" removed and that the district would review them in 15 days. It also said that Craft's appearance could be rescheduled.
Craft did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday on the decision to reinstate his books or reschedule his appearance.
The author said in a statement last week that the goal of his books was “helping kids become the kind of readers that I never was; letting kids see themselves on my pages; and showing kids of color as just regular kids.”
“As an African American boy who grew up in Washington Heights in New York City, I almost never saw kids like me in any of the books assigned to me in school,” he said. "Books aimed at kids like me seemed to deal only with history or misery. That’s why it has always been important to me to show kids of color as just regular kids, and to create iconic African American characters like Jordan Banks from 'New Kid.' I hope that readers of all ages will see the kindness and understanding that my characters exhibit and emulate those feelings in their day-to-day lives.”
Bonnie Anderson, a parent who is white, started an online petition to have Craft's appearance canceled. The petition has since been deleted.
"It is inappropriate instructional material," Anderson said. "The books don't come out and say we want white children to feel like oppressors, but that is absolutely what they will do."
The dispute over Craft’s book comes as school districts across the country are facing protests from parents and conservative groups over lessons on racism, equity and discrimination. In Southlake, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, parents mobilized to block a diversity and inclusion plan that would have brought new lessons and disciplinary rules to the Carroll Independent School District.