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Easton Library Spotlights Banned Books

EASTON, Conn. – What do J.K. Rowling, J.D Salinger, Anne Frank and Maya Angelou have in common? Each author has been challenged or banned in some part of the United States.

“I think it’s horrendous. I think people have the right to read what they choose to read and view what they choose to view. No one should impose their opinions or beliefs on anyone else,” said Bernadette Baldino, director of the Easton Public Library.

Each year during the last week of September, the American Library Association celebrates Banned Books Week. With the help of libraries and booksellers across the nation, the association puts a spotlight on the practice of banning books despite the right of freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

“This is why libraries are so important – people can get both sides and read the many views of the same topic,” said Baldino. “We need to spend a little time focusing on the fact that we live in a country that allows us to read what we want. I think we take that very much for granted and sometimes need to be nudged out of our comfort zones.”

According to the American Library Association, nearly every library and school district across the country has a policy allowing a person to request that a book be taken off the shelves or deleted from a school curriculum.

"Even if well intentioned, censors try to limit the freedom of others to choose what they read, see, or hear," the association says on its website.

The website has lists of books that have been challenged and/or banned over the years. The trend is cyclical, Baldino said, with controversy about titles coming and going. The most recent book to be “attacked” was the Harry Potter series, she said, for its wizardry and magic as well as its “immense popularity.”

In Culpeper, Va., the Culpeper County School District of 7,600 students banned "The Diary of Anne Frank" after a few parents said the book contained "sexual material and homosexual references." But an overwhelming majority of parents protested its banning that school officials reinstated it and placed it on the reading list for a higher grade level.

One of the most challenged or banned books on the association's list is the children's book "And Tango Makes Three," by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, a picture book based on a true story of how two male penguins nurtured an abandoned egg at the Central Park Zoo.

"Books offer us different points of view beyond education and illustration. They give us different points of view so we can form our own opinions and become better citizens and more active in our public lives," said Baldino. "Could you ever imagine no being able to a read a book? Books give you the opportunity to broaden all of your horizons to learn life-long."

For more information on Banned Books, visit the American Library Association's website at www.ala.org .

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