A Texas lawmaker just did a lot of authors a solid favor.

By listing 850 books as “distressing” for students, he no doubt piqued interest in them and likely boosted readership of those works.

That’s how it works in a democracy when you try to tell the people what they can and can’t read. It’s an especially pushy move when your job as a lawmaker has nothing to do with deciding the curriculum of the public school education system.

Included among the works that Texas state Rep. Matt Krause put on the list for school districts to report on is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste,” two books by National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates and the 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Confessions of Nat Turner” by William Styron.

Minnesotans made the list, too. Four works by Macalester College professor Duchess Harris were singled out, the Star Tribune reported, and even U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar made the list for writing the foreword to the book of essays “Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage.”

State politicians are overstepping in all sorts of ways these days when it comes to education, from trying to ban school mask requirements during a pandemic to running on a platform of ridding K-12 schools of critical race theory, which is not taught at that level.

The Texas 16-page book ban list is another overreach in that vein and should grate on every American who believes in freedom of speech and the value of a comprehensive education.

In a letter obtained by the Texas Tribune, Krause said his concern was books that “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex.” By the way, he is running for state attorney general.

Shielding children from the ugly parts of the nation’s history isn’t doing them any favors. Their world is going to be diverse, rich with people of multiple ethnicities, skin colors and cultural backgrounds.

It’s not about making white kids feel guilty about being white. It’s about teaching material thoroughly so students understand what the world was, what it is now and get them thinking about what they can do to make it better. Good educators have always had that goal.

Keeping students in a box under the guise of protecting them shortchanges the richness of in-depth exploration, denies them of critical thinking skills and slows society’s progress. Knowledge leads to understanding. Singling out writers who explore the experience of Blacks, people of color, women and the LGBTQ community is an act of discrimination in itself.

In the meantime, thanks to Krause, we’ve got a lot of book suggestions to help us dive deep into relevant subject matter.

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