HARRISON, N.Y. - What do J.K. Rowling, J.D Salinger, Anne Frank and Maya Angelou have in common? They are each authors of books that have been challenged or banned in some parts of the United States.
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 ALA has put a spotlight on the practice of banning books despite the right of freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.
According to the ALA, nearly every library and school district across the county has a policy allowing a person to request that a book be taken off their 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," notes the ALA website.
There are no books that have been banned from the Harrison Library, said Director Galina Chernkyh.
"People have to know about these books. We live in democratic society," Chernykh said. "Books are still being banned. It's still happening."
Chernkyh said life in Ukraine showed her firsthand what censorship could do to society. She said those experiences taught her the importance of free information.
"I will never question a patron like, 'Why are you taking this book out?' I will ask why they like it and what they like about it," Chernykh said.
The ALA 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 had The Diary of Anne Frank banned when a few parents said the book contained "sexual material and homosexual references."
But an overwhelming majority of parents stirred up so much controversy at the banning of this book 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 ALA 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.
For more information on Banned Books go to the ALA website at www.ala.org .
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