Saturday, February 26, 2011

Challenged Books

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban By J.K. Rowling (1999)

2000: The Durham (ON) Board of Education received numerous complaints about the immensely popular Harry Potter books being read in classrooms throughout the board’s schools. A school board official said that the complaints came from fundamentalist Christian parents.

Cause of objection: As is the case in at least 19 states of the U.S. and other parts of Canada, parents were concerned that Harry Potter is engaged in wizardry, witchcraft, and magic-making, and that these activities are inappropriate for young readers.

Update: After listening to the complaints, the administration decided to withdraw the books from classroom use but left them in school libraries where they would be available for book reports. One board member said she had wanted the books to be withdrawn completely from the schools; another member said the board had never been asked to decide the issue, so the books’ withdrawal amounted to censorship. Several months later, after a raucous public meeting, the board rescinded its decision to remove the books. However, in other jurisdictions teachers have been asked not to use the books in the classroom. This is said to have occurred in a school in Corner Brook (NF) and in Rockwood Public School in Pembroke (ON). In 2002, the Niagara (ON) District School Board turned down a parent’s request for the removal of the books from area schools. The parent said the books contained violence and promoted a religion (Wicca) which is against the law in Ontario schools. She said that she had not read the books.

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