Friday, 2 March 2018

Freedom To Read

Freedom to Read Week
February 25 - March 3, 2018

   My daughter has suggested that I write a blog on this topic.  I think it is to remind me of the fact that when she entered senior school, she brought home almost every book that I had learned about when I took a course on controversial teenage novels.  Even earlier than that, she had brought home a book from the church library- "Go Ask Alice" by anonymous.  As she was reading, she was asking the meanings of words that I really didn't want her to know yet.  So I decided to read that book, and, actually, I agreed that she should read it.  Perhaps she was a little too young, but it was a book about drugs and I felt that it gave a really good understanding of what happens when teens get involved in drugs. But I really didn't want her using that language.  She is a social worker now, so I guess it didn't damage her too much.  Her language is fairly classy.

   Not many books are banned in Canada.  I could only find evidence of seven and I have never heard of five of them. 

Books that have been banned in Canada:
The Hoax of the Twentieth Century - a book that denies the holocaust
Lethal Marriage- the story of Paul Benardo and Karla Homolka
Lolita- a professor obsessed with a 12-year-old
The Naked and the Dead- an American novel of World War ll
Peyton Place- a steamy expose on a small American town
The Turner Diaries- blueprint for terrorism
White Niggers of America- about the F.L.Q.

   But here is a more interesting list of Canadian books that have been challenged.  I understand about books being challenged because I was a children's librarian and was challenged a few times- always by a parent who was not a reader but picked out quotes that were disturbing.  
   My thinking is that you cannot condemn a book unless you have read every word.  And, children can learn that they shouldn't use that language- what is the bigger issue in the book? (As in "Go Ask Alice")

Books that have been challenged in Canada:

"The Diviners" by Margaret Lawrence
"The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill
"Three Wishes" by Deborah Ellis
"Underground to Canada" by Barbara Smucker
"The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" by Mordecai Richler
"Lives of Girls and Women" by Alice Munro
"When Everything Feels Like the Movies" by Raziel Reid
"Essex County" by Jeff Lemire
"The Wars" by Timothy Findley
"This One Summer" by Mariko Tamaki
"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

  I have read seven of those books and all I can say is that "When Everyone Feels Like the Movies" was one of the worst books that I have ever read, but other readers feel that it has a message for the youth of today.  So be it!
  I wish I had something profound to say about banning books, but I don't.  I realize that it is a slippery slope, so let's appreciate our "Freedom to read"!

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