Ripley’s Believe It or Not gives out free books to Florida residents after school ban
Banning books is not a good look for Escambia County Schools.

"The pen is mightier than the sword!" Ripley's said.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not books is giving free books to Florida residents after Escambia County schools banned some of its books.

“Recently, officials in Florida’s Escambia County Public Schools district have plunged into a literary adventure of their own: removing and flagging over 1,600 books for review and potential banning. In a weird plot twist, this includes eight encyclopedias, five dictionaries and hundreds of reference books — including three of our very own Ripley’s Believe It or Not! titles,” the attractions company said in a press release this week.

“However, the pen is mightier than the sword!”

Through May 15, Ripley’s will send free books to Florida residents. The books are available by mail or through pick up at its Orlando, Panama City Beach and St. Augustine locations with proof of ID. Here’s how to sign up for delivery.

Since launching the giveaway Tuesday evening, Ripley’s has already gotten 1,000 submissions for the free books.

Ripley’s books feature true stories that are weird, silly, impressive and sometimes gross — all true. One Ripley’s book, for instance, told about “an artist who paints with cow poop, a disappearing waterfall, whales that hunt with bubbles.”

“Our focus for the last 105 years has always been a lighthearted look at the curiosities that make up society. We celebrate uniqueness, a responsibility that we take to heart and will continue to for years to come,” said Ryan DeSear, Vice President of Attraction Operations for Ripley Entertainment.

Escambia County schools has been getting attention for pulling books from the shelves since 2022.

Library advocates have warned Florida is one of the worst states in the country for banning books.

The state passed the Parental Rights in Education Law (HB 1557) and another measure (HB 1467) which call for an open review of all educational materials and make it easier for parents to challenge book titles.

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently said the laws are meant to empower parents but has acknowledged some book bans have gone too far when encyclopedias are being targeted.

“Parents in Florida have a right to send their kids to school knowing that they’re going to be educated but not indoctrinated, and so we’ve provided some very robust protections for the rights of parents to direct the education classrooms,” DeSantis said last week.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Dont Say FLA

    February 21, 2024 at 9:00 am

    Believe it or not, in 2024 USA, one of the two dominant political parties believes in witchcraft and they’re burning all the spell books.

  • Rick Hoening

    February 21, 2024 at 12:57 pm

    I’m still surprised at the lies posted and claims by the activists that are 100% lies. Nt one book has been banned. They may be marked as age appropriate just like movie ratings but not banned. Why the lies people? Seriously why? Please be honest and have some integrity.

    • JD

      February 21, 2024 at 5:00 pm

      Care to define what you considered “banned”?

      Not having access?

      As far as I can tell the books were removed from the school shelves. If you need some clarification, let’s append “in schools”.

      It’s still banned (“in schools”). There’s a lot of them that were “banned”. Some cases over a 1000 titles depending by county.

      This is the outrage being protested. And there’s also not a vetting system or criteria for vetting “banned in schools” other than someone makes a claim they are in-appropiate. Then the books sit in limbo.

      Or are you saying “Outlawed”? Sure, they’re not being “outlawed”. Lets make sure we’re all talking the same syntax.

      Here, let’s be accurate: “defacto banned in schools”.

      That work?

    • MIchelle

      February 22, 2024 at 2:26 pm

      And in what world would an encyclopedia or dictionary need to be “age appropriate” or moved? Quit the delusion.

  • Linwood Wright

    February 21, 2024 at 3:39 pm

    Show me just one example in history where Book Banners were the Good Guys.

  • Lex

    February 22, 2024 at 8:13 am

    Everyone needs to cool their jets. There is an enormous difference between saying that material should not be in a K-12 library and banning a book. No one wants pornography in a K-12 library and no one is trying to ban even pornography. All of this is worth a conversation. Each book should be reviewed on its own merits and lack thereof. Children do not need access to things that are not age-appropriate.

  • Dont Say Library

    February 22, 2024 at 9:46 am

    Why do schools even have libraries anymore? Anybody can download any book onto their reader device.

    Let’s just get rid of school libraries. That way the MFLs can go away and kids can get whatever books they want and their parents allow because the state run school library system won’t be involved whatsoever

Comments are closed.


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