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Armonk Librarian Displays Previously Banned Books

ARMONK, 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.

So far this year, no books have been banned in North Castle due to the great tolerance in the community, said Mary Johnson, librarian at North Castle Public Library. She created a display of previously challenged or banned books this week to celebrate the American Library Association’s 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.

“I see public libraries as being one of the main supporters of our first amendment rights,” Johnson said. “This is a place where people can come and get what they can like. It’s our role to be here for entertainment and education, so people can come in and educate themselves on absolutely anything they want. It isn’t our job to stand in peoples’ way it’s our job to help them do it.”

According to the ALA, nearly every library and school district in the county has a policy allowing a person to request that a book be taken off their shelves or deleted from a school curriculum, which Johnson always hopes doesn’t happen in North Castle.

The ALA website has lists of books that have been challenged and/or banned over the years including the novel, “Speak,” by Laurie Halse Anderson, which is a fictional story based on a high school girl who’s sexually assaulted by an older male student.

“It’s something young boys and girls need to know about so they know what not to do, how to protect themselves, and how to cope,” Johnson said. “It’s a really important book because so many kids do have to cope with things like that and I was pleased to see it on the high school reading list this year.”

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 re-instated 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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