February 20, 2024, 8:15 PM ·

An Orlando-based attractions company is making an end-run around Florida’s new school library book removal law.

Ripley’s has launched a book giveaway for Florida families after three of its titles were removed and targeted for potential banning in Florida’s Escambia County Public Schools district. (That’s up in Pensacola, if your knowledge of Florida geography does not extend much beyond I-4 and the Turnpike.)Ripley Entertainment runs more than 100 attractions in 10 countries worldwide, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not! locations in Orlando, St. Augustine, and Panama City Beach. Florida families may pick up a free copy of a Ripley’s book from any Florida location, or they can sign up to get a free book in the mail via the Ripley’s website.The offer is valid through May 15 of this year and is limited to one book per household. A Florida address is required to claim your book. “The very idea of banning these books is worthy of entry to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Ironically, Escambia County officials are practically authoring our next book for us,” Vice President of Attraction Operations Ryan DeSear said. “While Ripley’s response to this issue is a bit tongue-in-cheek, we very much encourage all Florida residents to claim their free copy and decide for themselves.”

It’s cliché among educators that if you want kids to do something, just tell them – with great feigned seriousness – that they are absolutely not allowed to do that. So Ripley’s promotion works on multiple levels. Not only does it get people talking and writing about Ripley’s books (heck, would I be writing about them otherwise?), it also positions Ripley’s as “that wicked place your school doesn’t want you to know about” – which is as golden an endorsement to kids that an attraction ever could hope to receive.* * *
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