2.20.2011

celebrating freedom to read week: liberate a challenged book!


This week is Freedom To Read Week, the Canadian cousin of the ALA's Banned Books Week. FTRW is sponsored by the Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council. They say:
Freedom of expression is a fundamental right of all Canadians, and freedom to read is part of that precious heritage. Our Committee, representing member organizations and associations of the Book and Periodical Council, reaffirms its support of this vital principle and opposes all efforts to suppress writing and silence writers. Words and images in their myriad configurations are the substance of free expression.

The freedom to choose what we read does not, however, include the freedom to choose for others. We accept that courts alone have the authority to restrict reading material, a prerogative that cannot be delegated or appropriated. Prior restraint demeans individual responsibility; it is anathema to freedom and democracy.

As writers, editors, publishers, book manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and librarians, we abhor arbitrary interpretations of the law and other attempts to limit freedom of expression. We recognize court judgments; otherwise, we oppose the detention, seizure, destruction, or banning of books and periodicals – indeed, any effort to deny, repress, or sanitize. Censorship does not protect society; it smothers creativity and precludes open debate of controversial issues.


This year, FTRW has teamed up with BookCrossing to create Free A Challenged Book.

I hope you're familiar with BookCrossing, the amazing website that helps you share books and connect with book lovers all over the world. If you don't, please go here and read about it right now!

Free A Challenged Book is a special kind of BookCrossing.
Most Canadians probably don't even realize that on their own shelves sit challenged books. During Freedom to Read Week, your mission is to release challenged books all across Canada — on park benches, in coffee shops and in schools — as a way to mimic how challenged books are passed around, and to spread the word about challenged and banned books in Canada.

The Freedom of Expression Committee invites you to find a title you care about from our list of challenged literature and release it into your community. Perhaps your book will be picked up by someone in your community or maybe even by a foreign exchange student who will release it in another country — that's the beauty of this project and our hope for your freed book.

Interested? Here's how to get started...

1. Find a title from your own bookshelf that appears on our list of Challenged Books.

Here are just a few examples of books that have been challenged in Canada:
* Margaret Laurence, The Diviners
* J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye
* Rosamund Elwin, Asha's Mums
* Alice Munro, Lives of Girls and Women
* Elizabeth Laird, A Little Piece of Ground
* Mordecai Richler, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
* John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
* Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
* J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter
* Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
* Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
* more books...

2. Tag it with our handy book label.

3. Follow the link to BookCrossing.com and register the book.

4. Release the book into your community.

5. Log on to the BookCrossing website often to see who finds your book and what they think about freedom of expression.

More about my own Freedom To Read Week soon.

10 comments:

johngoldfine said...

I had a depressing conversation Friday with our new academic dean, five days on the job.

She was defending the possibility that a college-level class could be adequately taught in a highschool classroom. I've had experiences on both sides here and said that the limitations on free speech and academic freedom in the hs classroom led to pretty insipid and anemic student writing.

Someone else then mentioned a local hs where 'Girl, Interrupted' was snatched off the shelves after a parent's complaint. The new AD volunteered that she could certainly see the parent's viewpoint and perhaps the school could find something else equally interesting (and less offensive) for the students.

Do you think it's ever possible for me to see this new AD as anything other than a hack, time-server, fence-straddler, no-nothing, kiss-ass, and toady after hearing her say that? And she's responsible for ensuring academic quality at my school!

johngoldfine said...

I believe I neglected 'lickspittle' in my previous post....

laura k said...

Do you think it's ever possible for me to see this new AD as anything other than a hack, time-server, fence-straddler, no-nothing, kiss-ass, and toady after hearing her say that?

No. I do not.

johngoldfine said...

And, uh, brain cramp: I do know the difference between 'no-nothing' (what I take in my coffee) and 'know-nothing.'

laura k said...

WTF is their problem with Girl, Interrupted?

I mean other than girls reading what they choose, thinking for themselves, exploring new ideas, trying to control their own lives. I mean specifically with that book.

laura k said...

* And boys.

johngoldfine said...

I'd guess that anything with the word 'suicide' in it would be a source of distress, since it is very well-known that whatever young people read about, they will immediately want to imitate.

Haven't you found out about that yet in your program?

laura k said...

And I hear that when you remove a book from the shelf, you bar all possibility of that book ever being read. It's a well known fact that telling a young person "this is forbidden" in no way makes the forbidden object more attactive or desireable. The young person simply thinks, my elders know best, and never thinks about the forbidden object again.

[PS: WHY ARE PARENTS SO STUPID?]

johngoldfine said...

Whew, I was afraid there for a minute that you'd missed some important lecture material, but I can see you do understand the importance of carefully-controlling the flow of information.

allan said...

It's a well known fact that telling a young person "this is forbidden" in no way makes the forbidden object more attactive or desireable.

It also makes the bad thing never happen again!

I'd guess that anything with the word 'suicide' in it would be a source of distress

Goodbye, big papery thing tied up with string!