Toby Price, an assistant principal of an elementary school in the Hinds County School District in Mississippi, was fired because he read a book to second graders on Zoom called I Need a New Butt! The school board did not approve. Nor did the superintendent.

The school was participating in “Read Across America” day to honor Dr. Seuss’s birthday and to encourage children to love reading. Mr. Price thought the children would find the book hilarious, and they did. But they also got a lesson in the power and danger of books when Mr. Price was fired a few days later. He’s trying to get his job back and has a GoFundMe to support his family and pay a lawyer.

When I first read this story, I sent it to Carol Burris, my friend and executive director of the Network for Public Education. She immediately responded that she must be a criminal grandma because she’s shared that same book with her grandchildren many times, and they love it.

She drafted a confession:

True confession. I am a terrible grandma to my five grandkids. I confess. I bought little Phinney I Need a New Butt! I did not even wait for second grade—I bought it for him when he was two. We would laugh all the way through and he would beg me to read it… again and again and again.

But I did not stop there. I bought a copy for my other two grandkids, Merek and Reeve, then four and two. That’s me, a serial corrupter of young children’s minds.

And if there were a grandma license in the State of Mississippi, then mine would surely be snatched away. I am referring, of course to the tragic ridiculousness of the firing of an assistant principal in Mississippi for reading I Need a New Butt! to second-graders over Zoom.

Anyone who has ever spent any time with young kids knows that silliness is a magnet that draws kids into stories. I devoured Dr. Seuss, limericks, and rhymes as a child. My daughters loved the hilarity of Where the Sidewalk Ends with its rhymes about a child poet in a lion’s belly, baby brothers that ran away, and of course that sack with its mysterious contents (perhaps an extra butt is inside?) Stories with rich rhymes and rhythms build literacy. And maybe a sense of humor—something the world sorely needs.

I worked in schools long enough to figure out the back story on this one. Some self-righteous fool, who likely never liked the man, heard the story and called their friend on the school board. And then a spineless administrator complied, rather than standing up for a man whose life work was spent among children.

It’s a chilling tale of power and fear and extremism. And worst of all, the children of Gary Road Elementary lost someone who understands them, only to be left with school leaders whose butts may be tight and intact, but most certainly have cracks in their hearts and heads.

So, here’s the irony: I Need a New Butt! is now #1 bestseller on Amazon’s list of beginning readers for children.

The word should go out to every school board and legislature in the nation: whenever you ban a book, its sales will soar! Authors will wear your ban as a badge of honor. They may even ask you to ban their books so they too will benefit. Don’t do it!