librarians: celebrate human rights at your library #Write4Rights

December 10 is International Human Rights Day. The date commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the first global human rights document.

Every year on December 10, Amnesty International Canada holds Write For Rights. All over the country, Canadians use our own human rights to support people who don’t have them. We write letters in support of prisoners of conscience, and letters to prisoners to let them know they have not been forgotten. It’s a powerful experience, and very easy to do.

This year I will be writing letters, and I've invited our library system to join me. Library staff are always looking for display ideas. I compiled a list of materials, sent it out to all staff, and suggested a human rights themed display. Several people were interested, and I sent them each a poster template and Write For Rights bookmarks that I got from Amnesty.

If you create library displays, I invite you to try this! You can share photos of your displays on social media with the hashtag #Write4Rights. Here's my display, and my list.

Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacob
A Woman Among Warlords, Malala Joya
Chasing the Flame, Samantha Power
Dead Man Walking, Helen Prejean
Infamy, Richard Reeves
Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
I Shall Not Hate, Izzeldin Abuelaish
A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah
Shake Hands with the Devil, Romeo Dallaire
Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown
An Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King
The Dark Side, Jane Mayer

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
Three Day Road, Joseph Boyden
Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Little Bee, Chris Cleave
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, Gil Courtemanche
Room, Emma Donoghue
Half-Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Ford, Jamie Ford
Secret Daughter, Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson
The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
The Illegal, Lawrence Hill
A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
The Known World, Edward Jones
The Cellist of Sarajevo, Annette Keen
The Afterlife of Stars, Joseph Kertes
The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd
Prairie Ostrich, Tamai Kobayashi
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Fall on Your Knees, Ann-Marie MacDonald
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
Fugitive Pieces, Anne Michaels
A Mercy, Toni Morrison
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Lives of Girls and Women, Alice Munroe
Anil's Ghost, Michael Ondaatje
The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers
The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
Ru, Kim Thúy
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
Mosquito, Roma Terme
Dogs at the Perimeter, Madeleine Thien
Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese
Native Son, Richard Wright
The Book Thief, Marcus Zusack
The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card

Youth Fiction
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Little Brother, Cory Doctorow
The Giver, Lois Lowry

Documentary films
Devil's Knot
The Central Park Five
Waltz with Bashir

The Book Thief
The Giver
Hotel Rwanda
Made In Dagenham
12 Years a Slave

Graphic Nonfiction
War Is Boring, David Axe
Martin Luther King, Michael Teitelbaum
Army of God, David Axe
Snowden, Ted Rall
Woman Rebel, Peter Bagge
The Imitation Game, Jim Ottaviani
Anne Frank, Sidney Jacobson
Maus, Art Spiegelman
Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, Harvey Pekar
Louis Riel, Chester Brown

I'm sure everyone reading this can think of more titles. My list was limited to what can be found in our library system. I hope it inspires you to add some of your own. And to Write For Rights on December 10.


James Redekop said...

That's a great selection, but I'm not keen on the inclusion of Ender's Game, given Orson Scott Card's views on LGBT people. I don't think this is compatible with Human Rights Day:

"Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society."
-- "The Hypocrites of Homosexuality", Sunstone Magazine, 1990

I realize that the book is not the author and, to be fair, I haven't read Ender's Game (and I realize it doesn't touch on LGBT issues at all). But including Card leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

laura k said...

He is disgusting. There may be other authors on the list with bigoted views, too. I don't believe in taking that into account when looking at art of any kind. But I do take your point.

James Redekop said...

Fair enough, and I understand the importance of separating the work from the creator (I'm sure Tolkien & I would agree on very little, for example...)

laura k said...

Yes, good example. :)

Now of course if you and I wanted to never reading anything written by Card because of his bigotry - and to let him know - that's different. And good!

James Redekop said...

Part of the reason for my difference in approach to Tolkien & Card is I see Tolkien as a fussy old man who's out of touch with the modern world, but who is otherwise brilliant and passionate about something he loves (language and myth); while I see Card as a someone not that much older than I am who is passionate about something he hates (namely, people like me), and who was calling for violence against the government over gay marriage not all that long ago (but more recently has been calling for the LGBT community to show tolerance towards people like him now that same-sex marriage is legal).

Also, reviews like this one haven't helped my enthusiasm...

laura k said...

There's a huge difference between the two. (Also in terms of talent, but we'll leave that aside.)

I feel that if we start poking around through the belief systems and personal lives of artists, writers, filmmakers, and such, and deciding which work to celebrate or condemn based on that, we're no longer looking at art at all. We're first filtering out art created by people whose beliefs and life choices don't offend us. I don't want my art filtered first. I want to decide what to like or dislike based on the art, only.

Also, and equally important to me, this filter would only be for those opinions and beliefs we became aware of. Other artists might have equally odious beliefs, but because we aren't aware of them, it's "ok" to enjoy their art. So the filter is not only too broad, but too flimsy.

Lot of people don't read Ezra Pound because he was a Nazi. (Back in the days when people actually read Ezra Pound. Nowadays it doesn't matter.)

I have a co-worker who won't read Hemingway because she read The Paris Wife, a novel based on some of Hemingway's relationships, and decided Hemingway was a womanizer.

You or I might choose to not read anything by Card because of his bigotry.

But I don't want to recommend or not recommend Ender's Game because of it.

This is just the way I look at it -- after careful consideration through many examples and opportunities. YMMV.

laura k said...

That review is a bit ridiculous. Ender isn't meant to be a likeable character -- at first. He grows and matures through his experiences. And I agree that the book goes on a bit too long. But that "review" is more a reviewer showing off than a serious critique.

I didn't love the book, but I'm the wrong audience for it. Video game enthusiasts, people interested in military strategy, fans of Star Wars and similar movies -- this audience generally loves Ender's Game and the whole series.

The first book (the only one I read) also explores issues of military conscription, especially of children, war and its aftermaths, and our attitudes towards "aliens", be they human or otherwise.

Not every book is right for every reader, but that doesn't make it a bad book. For every good book out there, there are bad reviews on Amazon or Goodreads or elsewhere, often written by readers who were simply a bad match for the book.

johngoldfine said...

"I feel that if we start poking around through the belief systems and personal lives of artists, writers, filmmakers, and such, and deciding which work to celebrate or condemn based on that, we're no longer looking at art at all. We're first filtering out art created by people whose beliefs and life choices don't offend us. I don't want my art filtered first. I want to decide what to like or dislike based on the art, only."

DH Lawrence said to trust the tale, not the teller.

Then there are cases like Leni Riefenstahl's: the early propaganda films are beautiful and artful as spectacle but the content and context is so dreadful that I wind up hating something I 'like.'

laura k said...

The same thing happens to me sometimes. The politics can overwhelm the art. For example, one might choose never to read any of the Ender's Game books because of Card's bigotry. There is a writer who I cannot read because of his extreme anti-abortion views. Whatever else he might write that I might agree with... I can't do it.

James Redekop said...

One of the problems with reading a book like Ender's Game (basically a magic boy / chosen one story which invites the reader to put himself in the hero's place) by an author like Card is the constant reminder that, if I *were* in the hero's place in Card's world, I wouldn't be saving the universe, I'd be in a prison camp.

Really takes me out of the story... :)