Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' News

October 3, 2012

Celebrating the right to read banned books

By Doug Ireland

CNHI News Service

DERRY, N.H. - There’s something to be said for those guilty little pleasures, whether it’s sneaking that extra brownie, watching reality TV, or picking up a juicy forbidden book.

Yes, picking up a forbidden book. Especially when it’s National Banned Books Week.

Local libraries across the country are celebrating the week to underscore the public’s freedom to read whatever they choose, including books declared objectionable because of offensive language or their political, religious, sexual or violent content.

“To me, it’s a big deal,” said Diane Arrato, director of the Plaistow, N.H., Library. “We sometimes take the freedom to read somewhat lightly.”

Yellow caution tape and signs shouting "Forbidden" and "Banned" highlighted several New Hampshire public libraries' display of books that have been censored for various reasons.

In Derry, N.H., red tape was plastered across the faces of famous authors whose works have been challenged, including Maya Angelou and Roald Dahl.

Meryle Zusman, the Derry library's communications coordinator, said visitors are amazed to see how many books have been banned at one time or another by governments, schools, religions and advocacy groups.

She said the list includes age-old favorite “Alice in Wonderland” along with more recent selections such as the Harry Potter series.

Then, there’s those books whose banning everyone has heard about, such as J. D. Salinger's novel "The Catcher in the Rye” and Harper Lee's “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“At public libraries, that is our foundation, making sure everything is available to everyone,” said Zusman. “We don’t ban anything.”

At Kingston, N.H., Community Library, children learned about Banned Books Week at a special party held to celebrate the occasion, said director Sarah Sycz Jaworski.

A highlight of the party included kids having their “mug shot" taken with their favorite banned book, she said.

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Doug Ireland is a reporter for The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass. Contact him at direland@eagletribune.com.

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