NEW YORK (AP) — A celebrity once beloved among young people now finds himself on a list of books parents and other community members most wish to see removed from libraries: Bill Cosby.
Cosby’s “Little Bill Books” series is among those making the American Library Association’s annual top 10 “challenged books.” The reason is unique for the list, which the ALA announced Monday: not the books themselves, but the multiple accusations of sexual assault against the actor-comedian.
The Cosby series was launched in 1997 in the biggest way possible for the publishing industry; the first three releases, “The Meanest Thing to Say,” ”The Treasure Hunt” and “The Best Way to Play,” were selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club. “Little Bill” later became the basis for an Emmy-winning animated TV program that aired on CBS.
James LaRue, who directs the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said he would have a two-part defense if a parent objected to a library’s carrying the books.
“I would say we try to purchase books that appeal to a certain age group, that the books themselves were well reviewed and that they have positive messages,” he told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. “I would also say that you may disagree with him as a person, but these books aren’t about that.”
The ALA defines a challenge as “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.” Books that have been on the list include Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series and Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”