A Florida school district has removed a visual adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary, an acclaimed first-person telling of a teenage girl’s life in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II.
For decades, students in classrooms across the U.S. have read Frank’s diary, which documents her everyday life as Jewish child forced into hiding during the Holocaust.
“Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation” was created by Israeli illustrator David Polonsky and remains faithful to the original text. The graphic novel has received numerous accolades, including from the School Library Journal, which described it as “a superb offering to read alongside the original” that “lets its narrator’s voice soar.”
The book was challenged by parents in the Indian River County School District in Florida, who alleged that parts of the book stray from the theme of Holocaust education, according to the school.
Although the original book, first published as “The Diary of a Young Girl,” remains on the shelves — for now — the district has removed the graphic novel adaptation from Vero Beach High School’s library, claiming that scenes detailing Frank’s questions about sexuality were “not age appropriate.” Notably, Frank’s diary begins when she is thirteen years old, younger than most students are when they begin high school.
The parents who complained about the graphic novel are members of the far right group Moms for Liberty. The group has ties to right-wing elected officials and anti-LGTBQ organizations, including The Heritage Foundation. Moms for Liberty has also attempted to ban books on civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and Ruby Bridges.
Jennifer Pippin, who chairs the Indian River County chapter of Moms for Liberty, implied that the group filed the complaint because the graphic novel strayed from historical facts — despite the fact that it was adapted directly from Frank’s own diary.
Pippin and other members of the Moms for Liberty chapter plan to seek the removal of around 250 additional titles in the district, she added.
The decision to ban the graphic novel was widely condemned by scholars and human rights advocates.
Some observers noted that Vero Beach, where the high school is located, has been the victim of a number of antisemitic actions in recent months. Earlier this year, a hate group distributed flyers containing Nazi imagery and false, antisemitic conspiracy theories throughout the city, for example.
Challenges to books and classroom curricula have become commonplace in Florida — the direct consequence of a “Don’t Say Gay” bill that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law last year, which grants anyone the ability to challenge titles in school districts across the state if they claim that the material is not “age-appropriate.” Lessons on LGBTQ issues, Black history, and the Holocaust and Nazi Germany have been particularly targeted.
Republicans in the state are doubling down on expanding the law, introducing several measures this year that undoubtedly will lead to more books and curricula being banned.
“Republican legislators now use the law to turn public education into white nationalist factories and spaces of indoctrination and conformity,” scholar Henry A. Giroux wrote in a Truthout op-ed about book bans in 2021. “Republican state legislators have put policies into place that erase and whitewash history, and attack any reference to race, diversity and equity while also deskilling teachers and undermining their attempts to exercise control over their teaching, knowledge and the curriculum.”