At the library: banned books
The annual celebration of Banned Books Week takes place Sept. 27 through Oct. 3 this year. Begun in 1982 by the American Library Association (ALA), the purpose of Banned Books Week is to bring awareness to the importance of the freedom to read. In its booklet, “Books Challenged & Banned in 2008-2009,” ALA states, “This freedom, not only to choose what we read, but also to select from a full array of possibilities, is firmly rooted in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Although we enjoy an increasing quantity and availability of information and reading material, we must remain vigilant to ensure that access to this material is preserved …”Most challenges to books occur in schools, usually because a teacher has assigned a title to read that is objectionable to a parent. Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” for example was challenged by a parent because she found it too depressing for her child. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain made the list again this year for containing racist material. When a book reflects the era in which it was written, it may very well be politically incorrect.Boulder, Colorado author T.A. Barron had his book, “The Great Tree of Avalon: Child of the Dark Prophecy” removed from the Lackawanna, N.Y., middle school library because some parents were concerned that it deals with the occult. The story, written for teens, is a fantasy related to the King Arthur and Merlin legends. Fortunately, accusations of censorship by other parents and teachers restored the book to its place on the shelves.The most banned book for three years running, 2006, 2007 and 2008 is “And Tango Makes Three,” a children’s book by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole. It is based on the true story of two male penguins that hatched and raised a baby penguin from an abandoned egg in New York’s Central Park Zoo.Co-author Justin Richardson defends his book saying, “We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families. It’s no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks.” Julie Roach of School Library Journal wrote in her review, “This joyful story about the meaning of family is a must for any library.” “And Tango Makes Three” has received awards from ALA, the ASPCA, Nick Jr. magazine, and the Cooperative Children’s Book Council.The Summit County Libraries invite you to check out a banned book this week and practice your freedom to read.
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