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August 25, 2014


Sarah Loch

The Books of Bayern are an excellent series for upper elementary, as well as middle school. They would be great for those students who are advanced in reading level but not emotionally mature enough for some of the content in middle-grades and young adult fiction (especially since these same students tend to gravitate toward fantasy fiction). As a former school librarian who has worked in elementary, I would highly recommend you purchasing the series for your library.


My youngest is currently in her last year of elementary school. She's struggled for years finding books at the school library that take her longer than a half hour to read. Just this morning she complained that the books she checked out, that were supposed to last her a week, she's finished already. Kids need to be challenged with longer, more complex reads and the Books of Bayern have no questionable content that would raise eyebrows for the 8-10 crowd.

Kelly Barnhill

My two daughters (now aged 12 and 15) devoured the Books of Bayern over the course of Third and Fourth grades. As a parent, I found it tremendously challenging finding reading material for my little bookworms that fit my children's reading levels (high, in both cases) and still was appropriate reading material for their young minds and hearts. While they could read teen fiction from a leveling standpoint, the content and material was simply too mature for them - and frankly, they found teenagers boring. The Bayern sequence, on the other hand, was a lush, meaty read, full of intrigue and adventure and beauty. They were the sorts of books for which my little nine year olds would sneak flashlights into their rooms so they could read under the covers well past bedtime. These books put them on the path toward loving great fiction, and I cannot fathom why anyone would prevent them from sitting proudly on any elementary school library.


The books of Bayern are a wonderful series of books for the upper elementary students. My girls were so excited to read them when they were in fourth and fifth grades. They really loved the stories and have each reread the series a number of times. I am so glad that there are such great books out there to capture young readers and allow them to discover new worlds.

Myrna Foster

My oldest went into first grade reading on a fourth grade level. By the time she was in fourth grade, she was devouring books by Brian Jacques that are far more difficult to read than Shannon Hale's Bayern series. She loved reading fat books with complicated plots.

Different kids need different kinds of books. School administrators should trust their librarians' judgment.


My 10 yr old daughter read The Goose Girl and loved it as a 3rd grader. I love the comment posted by Kelly Barnhill - my thoughts exactly with my 2 young daughters.

Eileen Tew

My name is Eileen Tew, I run the book fairs at our Elementary School. Being a title one school, we do everything we can to get the kids reading. Part of the fun of my job on the PTA is that I get to buy books with the money we earn from our book fairs. We purchase a book for every student in the school, books for the library, and books for the classrooms. The books of Bayern series are always requested, always in high demand and always disappear off of the tables first! The kids love them, they are well written and fantastic reads. If it gets the kids excited about reading, you want them on your shelf!

Julia Adams

I read The Goose Girl in 5th grade, every moment I got a chance, I raced back to it. I was so invested.


I'm a librarian at a k-6 school. I have all the Bayern books and they are read widely in my older grades. As a representative of our state's Informational Freedom committee I'm appalled that an outside entity is making collection decisions. Many of my older, particularity sixth grade, students want to read up. My collection if full of books that are arbitrarily assigned as twelve and up. The people who make that designation would most likely agree that it is not a definitive age limit bit a recommendation based on average reading abilities and interests. Libraries need to cater to more than just the average.


When I was is in second grade, a school librarian told me I was not allowed to check out a certain book, as it was only for 4-6th graders. So I had my sister check it out for me. I read, understood, and loved it. I did not want to make the same mistake and underestimate my children.

I first introduced my daughter to the Books of Bayern as a second grader. Her reading level is higher than the majority of her peers and it is a struggle to find books that are appropriate content-wise while still challenging her. I loved the Books of Bayern myself and was thrilled to share them with her, knowing they were appropriate for her age and fabulous in every way. She is now entering fourth grade and has read them all several times (I lost count after 3), counting them among her favorites. While them may not be for everyone, there are many kids who will be able to read and love them in elementary.

Tonia Davis

I have an 11 year old daughter with severe reading disabilities. Because of these disabilities she is starting 4th grade this year. Reading for her was a chore until we found the Shannon Hale books. We started with Rapunzel's Revenge and she liked it so much we decided to pick up Ever After High then Princess Academy. Since my older daughter loved the Books of Bayern we picked the first as our book report book for her and started reading today. She may struggle with the words and it takes her longer to get through them then most kids her age but the stories engross her in such a way that she doesn't give up. Please don't censure good literature based on what you think a child can handle. Sometimes the motivation is simply a good story.

Heather Cromar

I was one of those early readers that was reading chapter books by the 1st Grade and was continually frustrated by librarians who kept trying to steer me over to the picture books when I was ready for "Little House on the Prairie." I burned through all of the available Nancy Drew books the summer before the 3rd Grade, read "Lord the the Rings" in the 4th Grade, and was stealing my older sisters books from the Jr. High School when I was in the 5th Grade. As a mother of several advanced readers, it really frustrates me that too many elementary school libraries (I went to four, my kids collectively to five) only stock books for grade level readers and below, leaving 3rd through 5th graders who need a challenge without one. The Books of Bayern are perfect fantasy novels for advanced 3th-5th Graders. (My oldest daughter read the first when she was in the 2nd Grade.) My youngest daughter, who was a struggling reader because of an eyesight problem, discovered Shannon Hale's books in the 4th grade and now has devoured all but her adult books. We need more books like these in our elementary school libraries.


I read The Goose Girl and Princess Academy in third grade and they did not corrupt my delicate young soul. I only wish Forest Born had been published early enough for me to discover it in elementary school. I am now a senior in high school and Shannon Hale is one of my "standard authors". I compare other books to hers when I'm deciding whether they're appropriate or not.

Kimberly Ward

When I was 12 I received a pass from my teacher to pick up a book for free from our book fair in the library. I picked out Goose Girl and have loved it and the whole series ever since. I would highly recommend the books to be held in any school library. That is where I first fell in love with them after all.

Regan Guerra

I homeschool my kiddos and fully intend to introduce my daughter to The Books of Bayern as soon as she shows interest in chapter books (the age for me was upper elementary). She's actually named after one of the characters, I love this series so much. It would be a marvelous addition to any school.


I actually bought The Goose Girl at my school's book fair in 5th grade. I absolutely loved it. I've read it many times since (tomorrow is my first day of college). I also recommended the book to my sisters and my friends (all of whom were reading at higher grade levels at the time) when they were in 4th and 5th grade. They too enjoyed reading the Bayern novels.


In the fourth grade, I was in the school library, wandering around for want of a book. What caught my eye was one of the Beehive nominees, Princess Academy. I read it and loved it! After that I was interested in more books from the author of that book. I finally was able to beg my mother to buy The Goose Girl at my school's book fair later that school year, and I have never regretted it. :)


My oldest son was able to sound out words and read at a first grade level by the time he was three. No joke. (Comprehension skills came a little later). Now as a 6-year-old, he's devouring books that are "meant" for kids several grade levels above him. I'm so glad his librarian and teachers haven't felt the need to limit him to the books that his age group is "supposed" to read. His abilities are skyrocketing and I'm seeing the benefits in so many other areas of his life. So I say, even if there's only one child in the whole school who might benefit from having the Books of Bayern in the library, then put the Books of Bayern in the library! You never know - the books might end up helping more than just that one.

Kaitlyn (Bookish Comforts)

I'm not a librarian or a teacher, but I am now a 22-year-old who grew up loving your books. I first read Goose Girl in Grade 5 or 6 and loved it. My parents - and therefore my teachers - did not monitor or restrict my reading in any way, but I didn't have any problems with the content. I simply loved it. I checked it out once every week or two. Not only do I think the Books of Bayern series should be permitted in elementary school libraries - I think they should be required.


I agree with what many have already said. My nine year old daughter was ready for, and loved, The Goose Girl and is clamoring for the next. Also, I know we shouldn't necessarily have "boy" books or "girl" books, but it is so wonderful for my daughters to have books showing women doing what women do - making difficult decisions and acting with strength and courage. It would be a tragedy to take these books off of an elementary school shelf.

Ruth Younce

My daugher (at the time in elementary school), son (3 years her senior), and I read all of the Books of Bayern and we loved them so much that we bought our own collection as a family. These books have the heroines making right and courageous choices in situations that keep one on the edge of one's seat until the end of the book. These are great books to encourage reading. I highly recommend them!

Alice Beesley

My daughters loved reading the Goose Girl books in elementary school. In fact, Goose Girl is still one of my daughters favorite books that she's read over and over again, even now that she's graduated and married!

Lisa Asanuma

While I discovered the Books of Bayern as an adult, I would have no qualms with sharing these books with elementary aged students. These books are full of characters making big choices and sometimes fighting themselves, but trying to do good things. I would recommend them to just about anyone.


I was one of those children who loved to read. By the end of 4th grade I was reading at a 9th grade level. This is because I was allowed to read books that challenged me and allowed me to learn from what I was reading. If I had been restricted in what I could check out from the library reading would have lost its magic.

M. Andrew Patterson

As a librarian, and a parent, I am always bothered by school districts who make that decision. Although my children haven't read your books, I have an 8 year old that read the entire Divergent series and is now reading the Lunar Chronicles. Yes, he understands what is going on. What a child is capable of reading should be a decision made by a parent and their child. Children can understand and process a lot more than people realize. And just because some self-proclaimed "professional" journal claims it's better for a certain grade level, doesn't mean that kids younger can't read and understand it.

Another thing to consider is that the district is probably using the "journal" as a scapegoat and it was really a small group of parents who freaked because their kid was reading about fairies and girls being empowered to make decisions and think.


As someone who read "grade 6 and up" books in second grade, this decision bothers me. Some children read at a higher grade level, and easily get bored with the "grade-level appropriate" books. There is nothing in appropriate in the Books of Bayern about characters making good decisions, and can teach upper elementary children great lessons and provide an enjoyable read at the same time.


As a bookseller, these are some of my favorite books to sell to parents who have children with high reading skills but who are not yet ready for the mature themes in teen novels. I have had countless parents and children return to our store and tell me how much they loved them, and the parents are especially glad to have a series that felt grown-up without any of the content they were concerned about.

Looking at it just from a lexile perspective, it makes a lot of sense to have the Bayern books in an elementary library, as all the books in the series are in the 800 range. While not every reader will be ready for these books in elementary school, it just makes sense to have high-level, age appropriate material in the library for those children who want to keep stretching their reading skills.


Perhaps the average student under the grade of six doesn't have a reading level ready for these books. But that in no way indicates they need to be banned! Age-appropriate doesn't denote inappropriate content. It denotes the average age at which readers have a skill level high enough to read the book. Besides which, if every book on the school library shelf is limited to age-appropriate books, children with higher reading levels will absolutely be left with nothing to challenge them. When I was in elementary school, I almost always read books several years above my age-level. And what about the sixth graders, for whom these books are supposedly age-appropriate? Are sixth graders going to have to have a restricted section like we've seen in Harry Potter? Or are Harry Potter books also too old for elementary-aged kids?

If you think these books should be banned, I suggest you read them. Once you start the first page of The Goose Girl, you won't be able to stop until the very last word of Forest Born. These books are magical, imaginative, beautiful, contain superb writing, allow for an expansion of empathy and vocabulary, and are all around wonderful. These books belong on every reader's shelves, but if they could only belong in one place that place would be on the shelves of elementary-aged children.


Isn't the point of reading to broaden our minds and perspectives? How are we supposed to learn if we are not allowed to dive deeper and into a harder selection of books? The way we learn what reading level we are at is by trying to read a book and if it is to difficult we just reign ourselves back in and try an easier one. And if we feel as if a book has a theme that is too mature for us, there is no law saying we must read it until the end. I just do not see reason in taking away the opportunity for kids to expand their knowledge if they are curious enough to search for it.

Calista P

If The Books of Bayern are banned, so should Grimm's Fairy Tales, and other books of original fairy tales. Her books are much more mild than the original of, for example, The Goose Girl, and they are much more easy to read and understand. The Goose Girl sits on my bookshelf next to Ella Enchanted and The Two Princess of Bamarre (both by Gail Carson Levine) because they are too similar to be separated. Both Levine and Hale's books discuss identity and decision making and finding out who you are in a very moral and wholesome way. If this were the Mortal Instruments or Twilight Series then I would be on the side of the school board, but they are totally different. If Hale's books are banned, then please add to the list all books by Levine and J.K. Rowling.


There is nothing inappropriate about the content of The Goose Girl and etc. The only reason reviewers generally recommend the books for grades 6 and up is because of the reading level of the books. Some elementary school students will find the Books of Bayern too difficult. Others will read them with ease or enjoy the challenge. 5th graders who are strong readers would be just fine. (7th grade English teacher)


I read your books in elementary school. There are some deeper themes I understand more now, but I whole-heartedly loved and enjoyed them then, as I do now.

Genevieve Ford

Might I suggest contacting the reviewer who made the age recommendation and get her or his comment on the situation. I've known a number of professional book reviewers and I think they'd all be appalled and dismayed at this particular decision.


My older kids are currently 12, 11 & 10 and have ALL read your Bayern Books multiple times over the last 4 years. My 11 yo son picks them up every couple of months and reads the set in a week, usually 3 days. He even got his hockey teammates to read them too, one after refusing to read "girl books" when his mom suggested them. This whole thing is rediculous!

Lynette @ Escaping Reality - One Book at a TIme

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is listed by Scholastic as a 5.3 grade level. I read it, on my own, shortly after my 5th birthday. However, at the time, many organizations were stating that it should ONLY be for 5th grade and up because it was "scary," or "too hard to read." If my parents had subscribed to these beliefs, without taking into account my personal maturity and reading level, I may not have been able to start my favorite series for another 5 or 6 years, therefore missing out on a wondrous opportunity to learn and grow from the advanced reading level.

Just because the Books of Bayern are for grades 6+, doesn't mean someone UNDER the age of 12 might not enjoy them. In fact, i can tell you that my little sister was 6 years old when we first read The Goose Girl to her. She loved it.

Don't ban a book just because of it's "suggested age range." As a professional reviewer, I know that sometimes when I state what I believe is the appropriate age range for a book, I'm just saying who *I* think would enjoy it most. Often I know children below the "age range," who have loved the book. So don't take The Books of Bayern out of Elementary Schools. You never know how much one book can change a child's life. You could be missing out on a wondrous learning experience for that child.


My kiddos are in the gifted program in our district and like many kids in these type of program my kids read at an advance level for their age. It is a tremendous challenge to find books that are on my kiddo's reading level (as teachers insist that anything they read for credit in their class be at their reading level) that are also appropriate or interesting for their age level. Both my son and daughter have read all the Books of Bayern because they fit that VERY hard to find niche of high level/appropriate for younger readers. I also wish their teachers would allow them to balance their reading-for-credit with "lower" level books that they just enjoy. Because it's so hard to find appropriate leveled reading for my young advanced readers they end up reading a lot of non-fiction which, after awhile, starts to suck the joy out of reading for them as they watch all their friends reading "fun" books. But that's a topic for a different thread altogether.


I read the Books of Bayern in Junior High, and while I adored them, they were quick reads. Had I read them as an elementary student, I would have read them more slowly, but they would have not been too difficult for me to enjoy them. In fact, its important for kids to have challenging books accessible.

In other words, there is no reason, not content, not reading level, to prevent elementary students from discovering these marvelous books.


I remember reading The Goose Girl in 4th grade. I absolutely loved it! It remains one of my favorite books to this day!

Jessica Davis

Difficult things are how we grow. Yes sometimes things are too difficult but that doesn't mean one shouldn't try, even if one is very young. Another way we grow is discovering what things are too difficult and need to wait a while. I read these books in the 6th grade. I didn't find them difficult and I didn't think many children did but I loved them very much. I read these books and I finally developed a love for reading that I had never felt before and I wish I had read them sooner so that I would have loved books much sooner. That's just me it's not for other people to decide that this sort of book is too difficult it's for the chold to decide

Laurie Dukes

I have the Books of Bayern in my Elementary Library, and I often recommend them to my higher-level readers!


My niece read Harry Potter in a month (all seven books) and she's six. If she's old enough to comprehend that at that age (and talk about it incessantly), then I imagine she'd love the Books of Bayern. The content from the Books of Bayern is a lot tamer than that of Harry Potter books 4-7. I own the whole series and recommend them often. I was a children's librarian for a while and it's a shame when a district will ban a book for reasons that have nothing to do with content.

Lexile Reading levels are used by Common Core and many divisions to determine reading levels and typical reading levels are:

Grade 3 330L to 700L
Grade 4 445L to 810L
Grade 5 565L to 910L
Grade 6 665L to 1000L

Goose Girl is at an 870L reading level, Enna Burning at an 800L. That clearly is in the elementary range. We cannot prejudice our advanced readers because a couple critics recommend something for junior high.


The Goose Girl, River Secrets, and Forest Born are appropriate for upper elementary and middle school kids. But because of all the killing by burning, done by Enna in Enna Burning, among some other things I wouldn't suggest it for elementary kids. Upper middle school/junior high would be better. I'm a junior in high school and love all the Bayern books but that is my personal opinion, and since my mom has me read my younger sisters books first I have to be careful.

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