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Ossining Library Highlights Banned Books

OSSINING, 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, the American Library Association celebrates Banned Books Week, which ends Saturday. 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.

Suzy Zavarella, a teen services librarian at the Ossining Public Library, said no one has ever asked her to remove a book from the Ossining library, but she felt it was necessary to put up a banned book display so that people would know that there are places in the country where books are banned for certain reasons.

"I think it's actually kind of stupid. Everyone has the right to read a book," said Gervonnie Jones, 18, a high school senior who was hanging out in the library's teen room on Friday.

Books that were at one time banned that are on display the Ossining library's teen room include "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Colin, which was banned because it "causes nightmares," "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, which was banned because it was "racist," and "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, which was banned because it was "profane."

Heather Pullem, a reference librarian at the Ossining library, said when she worked in an elementary school in northern Westchester, a parent asked her to remove a children's book that said there was no Santa Claus.

"The parent got really upset because the child came away believing that there is no Santa Claus," Pullem said.

The ALA website has lists of books that have been challenged and/or banned over the years.

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.

The Harry Potter books have also been banned because some people say it "promotes witchcraft."

For more information on Banned Books go to the ALA website at www.ala.org.

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