woman in classroom with clipboard and caption 'Tennessee teachers you know why I'm in my classroom on a Saturday'


‘The teacher has to catalog every single book’: Teacher says students can’t read any of her books until they’re screened for ‘age appropriateness’

'The kids in here are asking me, 'can I go get a book and read?' and I have to say 'no you can't.''


Cecilia Lenzen


Posted on Aug 15, 2022

A Tennessee teacher on TikTok claims that her students can’t read any of the books in her classroom library until they’re screened for “age appropriateness,” which is a rather long process.

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The teacher, Sydney (@sydneyrawls), recorded the viral video from her classroom on a Saturday. She says that like most teachers, she doesn’t like going to work on the weekends, but she felt obligated to do so because of her school’s book screening process. She does not say in the video what school she works at.

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@sydneyrawls Tennessee Teachers can relate 😤 #fyp #teachers #teachersoftiktok #backtoschool #tennesseeteacher #departmentofeducation #teacherinspo #teachermotivation #letusteach #teachersdontgetpaidenough #teacherlife #teacherworkingafterhours #teachersbelike #teacherlifebelike #teacherproblems #educationtiktok #childrensliteracy #kidswanttoread #teachersontiktok #teachertok #teacherproblems #tennessee ♬ original sound – sydney

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee recently signed a law requiring school libraries to screen their materials for “age appropriateness,” according to Chalkbeat Tennessee. An additional bill could slap school librarians with criminal penalties over books that some might label obscene.

“If a teacher wants his or her students to read any of the books at school or in the teacher’s classroom, the teacher has to catalog every single book,” Sydney says in the TikTok, explaining the ramifications of the law.

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She explains that teachers have to catalog the title and author of every book in their classroom — even if they have hundreds of books. After a teacher catalogs their books, they must send the list to their school librarian, who has a list of “approved” books. Sydney says she doesn’t know what that list is based on.

Once the school librarian determines which books on a teacher’s catalog are approved, teachers have to remove the “unapproved” books from their classrooms. If a teacher has any books that a librarian is uncertain about, they send those books to a higher-up administrator. That person will then determine whether those books are acceptable for the students.

After the administrator determines the approved and unapproved books, teachers once again have to remove any additionally unapproved books. Then, the teacher has to post the finalized list of approved books from the librarian and administrator online where parents can view it. Parents can chime in about any books they deem inappropriate, Sydney says.

After all that, the kids can finally start reading the books.

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Sydney explains that her school district has told her and other teachers that they are not required to catalog their books, especially on the weekends. However, she explains that many of her students want to read books and regularly ask her if they can read from her classroom library.

“The kids in here are asking me ‘can I go get a book and read?’ and I have to say ‘no you can’t,'” Sydney says in the video. “Because I haven’t had a chance to go through all of them to catalog them and write them all down to send off to somebody that is going to tell them that they can or can not read the books in my classroom library.”

While her video has received over 1.4 million views, Sydney turned off comments on the video as of Monday. The Daily Dot reached out to her via TikTok comment on another video, as other methods of contact were unavailable.

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*First Published: Aug 15, 2022, 5:21 pm CDT
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