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A Miami bookstore is handing out some of the titles banned from kids' library

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

In Florida, the complaint of just one parent can get a book moved off a school library shelf. That's what people in Miami-Dade County learned recently after a mom claimed that the poem read at President Biden's inauguration was, quote, "indoctrination." The poet of that poem is Amanda Gorman. And this week, a local bookstore gave away copies of her book for free as a way to push back against censorship in Florida schools. From member station WLRN, Kate Payne reports.

(CROSSTALK)

KATE PAYNE, BYLINE: Hundreds of people stream into a church in the city of Coral Gables to grab brown paper bags filled with books.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Can I grab two bags?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Thank you so much.

PAYNE: Inside are "The Hill We Climb" by Amanda Gorman, "The ABCs Of Black History" by Rio Cortez, and "Love To Langston" by Tony Medina. A complaint by one Miami-Dade mother got these books moved out of the elementary school section of her kids' library.

SARA CORDERO: I just think it's an atrocity to ban any book.

PAYNE: Sarah Cordero came to the book giveaway with her young daughter, Ana Lila. The 5-year-old grabbed "The ABCs Of Black History" and wouldn't put it down.

CORDERO: I was telling her when we were coming here what was going on and that they were banning - they were wanting to ban books. And she just didn't get it. She was like, why would somebody ban a book?

PAYNE: Later, local authors read from the books to a standing-room-only crowd while kids followed along in their new copies. Marvin Dunn is a historian of Black Miami.

MARVIN DUNN: (Reading) A is for anthem, a banner of song that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong. B is for beautiful...

PAYNE: Under state law, any parent or county resident can challenge a book. Some readers and educators are looking for ways to push back. At times, this event, hosted by the local store Books & Books, felt like a political rally.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Stand up. Freedom. Freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Freedom. Freedom.

PAYNE: The books at this giveaway were paid for by a local donor and Amanda Gorman. She spoke with CBS News about the controversy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMANDA GORMAN: Decisions about what their child can read. I'm fine with some parents not liking my poetry. That's completely in your right. But when we get to the situation where that one's person dislike of my work leads to everyone else not having access to that, that is a huge issue.

PAYNE: Gorman wasn't at the book giveaway, but other prominent local authors were, like Haitian American writer Edwidge Danticat. Like many people in this community, Danticat came to South Florida after fleeing government oppression in her home country.

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: People who are tyrannical, who are despots, they know as well as we know the power of literature - the power of it to change, the power of it to inspire. And I think that's one of the things that's being squashed here. So we have to ask ourselves, if these things are being slowly taken away from children, what is next?

PAYNE: That's why it's so important, she said, to celebrate these books and to share them. For NPR News, I'm Kate Payne in Coral Gables, Fla.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANDERSON .PAAK SONG, "FIRE IN THE SKY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.