School District Declines to Remove Michelle Obama Biography After Parent Complaint

The author of the children's book tells PEOPLE she is "shocked that anyone would want to ban a children's biography about Michelle Obama, because this is a nonfiction book that doesn't strike me as at all controversial"

Michelle Obama
Former First Lady Michelle Obama. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty

A Texas school district reportedly says it won't remove a biography about Michelle Obama following a complaint from a parent who said they felt the book about unfairly portrays former President Donald Trump as a bully.

The book — titled Michelle Obama: Political Icon by Heather E. Schwartz — is among at least 86 that Texas parents have recently attempted to have banned, according to a list compiled by NBC News.

NBC News reports that 86 formal requests were filed to remove books from school libraries last year. The list of books includes the Obama biography, which the parent also said makes it seem that "if you sound like a white girl you should be ashamed of yourself."

In a statement provided to PEOPLE, Schwartz said she was "shocked that anyone would want to ban" her book, which was written for children.

"This is a nonfiction book that doesn't strike me as at all controversial," the author said, in part. "I take great pains in my work to present fact-based information and avoid any political slant."

Schwartz continued in her statement: "As an author, a reader, and a parent, I'm against book banning on principle. There couldn't be a safer way for kids to learn about difficult topics, gain new perspectives, and explore the world and their place in it than by reading words on a page."

According to Insider, which reported Wednesday on the ban request, the Katy school district reviewed the book as is standard for any formal complaint and determined it would not be removed. (The district did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.)

Other books Texas parents reportedly attempted to have banned last year include an illustrated children's book about Olympian Wilma Rudolph, who grew up in 1940s Texas (one parent alleged the book "opines prejudice based on race"); Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (which one parent wanted banned because it includes a rape scene); and the acclaimed 2003 novel The Kite Runner, about a wealthy Afghan boy and his servant (the parent wanted the book banned because of a sexual abuse scene involving a child).

Renewed efforts to ban books — energized by a conservative base and a larger cultural debate about what is appropriate for the classroom — have been sprouting up across the U.S.

In Tennessee, the McMinn County Board of Education recently voted to remove Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus, an animated retelling of the author's father's experience in the Holocaust. The book was banned from an eighth-grade lesson plan about the Holocaust because it included nudity and curse words.

The New York Times reports that The American Library Association reported an "unprecedented" 330 reports of book challenges last fall.

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