Sunday, February 23, 2014

Freedom to Read Week starts today!

Checking out the Freedom to Read website and their list of selected works that have been challenged in Canada, I was surprised at how few I've read. But, I've provided links here to my thoughts on the ones I've read over the life of this blog:

1. Katherine Peterson- Bridge to Terabithia
*2. Mordecai Richler- The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (really? Not Cocksure?)
3. Lois Lowry- The Giver
4. J. K. Rowling - The Harry Potter Series
*5. Barbara Smucker - Underground to Canada
*6. Jeff Lemire- Tales from the Farm
7. Charles Burns- Black Hole
8. Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
9. The Bible

Other Canadian books (besides those starred above) on the list include:
1. Timothy Findley- The Wars (which I have read, just not over the life of this blog)
2. Deanne Kasokeo- Antigone
3.  Mike Pearson- Waging War from Canada
4. W.P. Kinsella- Dance Me Outside
5. Paul Kropp- Moonkid and Liberty
6. Pierre LeBlanc and Robin Konstabaris- Scrambled Brains
7. Nick Pron- Lethal Marriage
8. Sylvie Rancourt and Jacques Boivin- Melody
9. Jane Rule- The Young in One Another's Arms
10. Cherylyn Stacey- How Do You Spell Abducted?
11. Merily Weisbord and Merilyn Simonds Mohr- The Valour and the Horror
12. Brian Doyle- Hey Dad!
13. Kevin Major- Hold Fast
14. Alice Munro- Lives of Girls and Women (which I have read, just not over the life of this blog)
15. John Newlove- Canadian Poetry: The Modern Era
16. Daniel Sernine- Les envoûtements
17. Margaret Laurence- The Diviners (which I have read, just not over the life of this blog)

(There may be other Canadian authors on the list that I failed to catch or didn't realize were Canadian.)

 One of the things that I love above Freedom to Read Week is the amusement I get from those books that probably would have faded into history without a whisper, had their objectors just a little more patience, but now live on and find more readers in the long run. I, for instance, have never heard of Deanne Kasokeo's version of Antigone (the Greek tragedy is adapted to a First Nations setting), until this happened, and now I'd really like to read/ see it.

I've not had a whole lot of experience with challenged books. Years ago, I did have a parent object The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe on religious grounds. (I had sent it home for a nightly reading assignment with her son, in my grade 3 class). Despite trying to explain that many saw it as a Christian allegory (the parent in question was Christian), she still wanted another book. I found them another of which she was more comfortable. I should note that the entire situation was amicable, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was not in the curriculum, and she did not insist that I restrict other students access to the book.

Anyway, in honour of Freedom to Read Week, I've decided to offer a mini-challenge to all of those who are participating in the 7th annual Canadian Reading Challenge. I'm offering a copy of Vicky Delany's Gold Web as a prize to be given to a random winner chose from a participant who either:
1. shares a short anecdote below about an experience they've had with challenged books
2. reads and reviews any of the above challenged Canadian books before the end of March (please indicate in the comments that you read it to be entered into the draw).

(I should also note that Dundurn Press graciously donated the prize, but I did not give them any contest details, nor am I implying that they endorse or deny any of the ideals in this post!)


Anonymous said...

I'm familiar with some faiths protesting inpropriety; which led me to embrace spirituality sans institution. :) I had a relative who said rearranging 'santa' spelled 'satan'. Anyway I think I'll read "The Diviners" from my fellow prairie gal, Margaret Laurence. The top list must be general challenger titles? Joanne Rowling for instance isn't Canadian. Your prize looks lovely.

Eric P said...

The list and database is definitely not the easiest to use. There are a few more Canadian authors to add from the poster:
Atwood The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Laurence A Jest of God
Hugh MacLennan Barometer Rising
Morley Callaghan Such is My Beloved

The reasoning is nearly always suspect, though it is particularly risible in the case of Barometer Rising (objectionable language).

It is kind of sad that in at least a few of the cases listed on the posted, the censorship largely succeeded.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your additions, Eric. As a result of spotting an earlier volume in Margaret Laurence's 'Manawaka Sequence': please change my entry to "A Jest Of God". It makes far fewer to get through, for chronology aficionados like me (the second instead of the fifth)!

Nikki in Niagara said...

Since I haven't read it yet. Now's as good a time as any. Just put a hold on Tales From the Farm.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

What a GREAT challenge. I will be participating to. I will try and get my hands on Margaret Laurence's "A Jest of God".

Take care, and have a great day!

Nikki in Niagara said...

I just read and reviewed Jeff Lemire's Tales From the Farm! Enter me in the draw please!

Anonymous said...

It might be you & I competing for the draw, Nicola. :) Here is my entry vis-a-vis a review of "A Jest Of God". For good measure, I'll add "The Stone Angel" (far better). Sincerely, Carolyn.