SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Sumner County School Board will discuss a controversial book at its Tuesday meeting. One elementary school parent requested that the book be banned from library shelves. 

Sarah Kearney, Sumner County Schools parent and member of Safeguard our Schools, told News 2 her son brought the book, “A Place Inside of Me”, home from Jack Anderson Elementary School. The book is about a Black boy who lost a friend after a police shooting. After reading it with her son, she asked the school to remove it.  

“I do not believe at all that a 6-year-old should be able to go into an elementary school library and pick up a book that has pictures of police officers with clubs getting ready to hit people. The entire book is about police killings and it’s just absolutely inappropriate for a child,” Kearney said 

School staff decided to keep the book on shelves, and now Kearney is appealing the decision to the school board. 

“House Bill 580 says that there cannot be Critical Race Theory. Black Lives Matter one hundred percent represents Critical Race Theory. This book is all about how the African American race is oppressed and inferior because of their race,” Kearney said. 

The group “Right to Read Sumner County” hopes the school board will decide to keep the book at Tuesday’s meeting.  

“Books are supposed to be not only mirrors, but windows. We shouldn’t just see ourselves necessarily reflected in everything that we read,” parent Hilary Lounder said. “It’s kind of a slippery slope to let a single voice dictate what an entire library looks like.” 

News 2 reached out to the book’s author for comment. She said she spent years working to get her book published and it features a poem that’s meant to help children have a sense of healing.

“We had and just had, and unfortunately continue to have quite a few police-involved shootings of unarmed Black people. And we found an editor who said, ‘I think this book is timely and it’s focusing on healing and it’s teaching kids social-emotional learning,’ which is really important,” author Zetta Elliott said. 

Elliott said she also saw a parent and elected official attempt to ban her book at a school district in Virginia. That school board voted 4-to-3 to keep her book.  

“There are children who have this reality, they know someone who was involved in a police shooting and they’re mourning, they’re mourning, they’re grieving, they’re angry, they’re upset, they’re trying to heal. There should be a book that is available to them that mirrors their experience and their reality. And if that isn’t your child’s experience, then you should want them to understand that that experience exists and it shapes other children’s realities, and that helps them develop empathy,” Elliott said.  

Kearney said she’s not opposed to the book completely, she just believes it belongs on the shelves of bookstores and public libraries, not her son’s elementary school library.  

“When you tell a child that people treat other people differently because of the color of their skin, the next time that they see somebody that looks differently than they do that’s the first thought that’s going to be in their mind. My son has been taught to love everyone and treat everyone with kindness and respect, and that’s the way that I want it to be,” Kearney said.