Banned Ripley’s book? Yes, please!

A stack of books found on frequently banned book lists wrapped in caution tape.
Ripley's started giving away free titles after its book was banned in Florida.

The demand for the banned Ripley’s Believe It or Not books has surprised and delighted the entertainment company.

So far, about 17,500 Floridians requested a copy of a book after Ripley’s announced it was giving them away for free when a school district banned the title, the company said recently.

“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 company said on its website.

Spokeswoman Sabrina Sieck expressed the confidence Ripley’s won’t run out of books to give away and added that the response has been “wonderful.”

Ripley’s will start mailing the famously weird books within the next few weeks, she said. Florida residents can also pick up the books at Ripley’s attractions in Orlando, Panama City Beach and St. Augustine locations with proof of ID.

“We want to thank the educators, parents, authors, fans, and everyone who has participated so far,” said Ryan DeSear, Vice President of Attraction Operations and Technology, about the free book giveaway. “Our mission has always been to entertain and educate. Ripley’s books open doors to diverse cultures, untold stories, and unbelievable people, creating awareness about the incredible world around us.”

In 2022, the state passed the Parental Rights in Education Law (HB 1557) and another measure (HB 1467) which called for an open review of all educational materials and made it easier for parents to challenge book titles.

Since then, even school districts like the Democratic-leaning Orange County Schools in Orlando are dealing with parents demanding books be yanked off the shelves.

“To be honest, headquartered in Orlando, FL, the news hit close to home. Not only does Florida boast nine Ripley’s attractions, but our books are produced in-house, in Orlando — from their research and writing to their design and dedication to fact-checking,” Sieck said about the statewide book banning.

Gov. Ron DeSantis fought back, calling book banning a “false narrative.”

“Over the past year, parents have used their rights to object to pornographic and sexually explicit material they found in school libraries,” he said in a statement last month. “We also know that some people have abused this process in an effort to score cheap political points.”

Ripley’s pledged to continue giving out books thru May 15. People can sign up for a book delivery here.

Meanwhile, Ripley’s next edition, “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Dare to Discover” goes on sale Sept. 10. Florida residents who get a free book will also receive a coupon for the new title, the company said.

“We have had a great deal of fun celebrating our book and look forward to the banning of our next edition,” DeSear said.

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 .


  • Michael K

    March 11, 2024 at 8:43 am

    So-called “parental rights” is just another step in the radical right-wing goal to destroy public education. Banning books under the banner of “freedom” is the biggest “false narrative” out there. Enough, already.

  • Ron DeFascist

    March 11, 2024 at 10:34 am

    There has never been a single example in history of book banners being the Good Guys. They always, always, always turn out to be authoritarian figures. If DeSantis supporters were actually intelligent they would have figured that out by now.

  • PeterH

    March 11, 2024 at 11:34 am

    DeSantis will never be president!
    Republicans are America’s worst enemy!
    Vote all Republicans out of office!

Comments are closed.


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