You may or may not know that last week was Canada’s annual Freedom to Read Week, a project started by the Books and Periodicals Council. The project “encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.
Despite this declaration and that we live in a democracy which encourages freedom of speech, there are people who appoint themselves gatekeepers and want to decide what everyone should or shouldn’t read. Canadian border officials have been notorious for refusing to permit certain books and magazines to enter the country. Other self-appointed gatekeepers approach schools and libraries and demand they not carry a certain title.
Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about the type of writing and photos that are illegal in Canada, but books such as The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Shepherd’s Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter (described as a “moving tale about one of the most hotly disputed pieces of land on earth”), Takes One to Know One: An Alison Kaine Mystery by Kate Allen (a mystery novel with a lesbian theme). You can check out www.freedomtoread.ca to read the complete list of challenged books and more about the Freedom to Read project.
Although Freedom to Read week officially ended yesterday, I write about this now because I believe that every week should be freedom to read week. We need to pick up a book, especially a challenged book, to read. After all, where would we be without the right to choose? So please, borrow a book, download a book, or buy a print book to share with others. You have millions of titles to choose from. Heck, you even have a long list of challenged books to choose from. I wrote a blog last year about the top 100 challenged books in America; titles that include the Harry Potter series and Charlotte’s Web, among many others. So, go ahead and read, then tell me your favorites.