WESTON, 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.
"You'd be really surprised about what books are on the list," said Karen Tatarka, director of the Weston Public Library. "'Water for Elephants' was banned in a school district in Bedford, N.H., in 2010 because of the sexual content."
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.
"Book banning goes against the ethics of being a librarian," said Tatarka, whose favorite book on the banned list is "Huckleberry Finn," which she said is banned for its references to African-American people. "It reflects a different time period when that was acceptable. To take that out, you lose the relevancy to the time period it was written in."
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.
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 [are important] so people can get as many perspectives as they can on a topic to make decisions on their own," said Tatarka. For more information on Banned Books, visit the American Library Association's website at www.ala.org.
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