Weighty Books

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A Massachusetts lawmaker wants to lighten the load for the state's schoolchildren.

Amid concerns about the health risks of overloaded backpacks, state Representative Louis Kafka has filed a bill that would limit the weight of textbooks used in public schools.

Kafka says he lifted some of the backpacks students have to carry and couldn't believe how heavy they were.

Textbook publishers say the problem isn't the weight of the books. They say children carry a lot of other stuff in their backpacks besides books. Another problem: Many kids sling their backpack over a shoulder rather than wear it centered on their backs.

Publishers are also pointing to federal statistics that show students are twice as likely to get hurt by tripping over backpacks than by wearing them.