Sunday, February 27, 2011

Challenged Books

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1999)

2002: Black parents and teachers in Yarmouth, Digby, and Shelburne (NS) objected to this novel, Barbara Smucker’s Underground to Canada, and John Ball’s In the Heat of the Night. The director of education of the Tri-County school board ordered the withdrawal of the three books pending a ruling by the board, but his order was rescinded at a board meeting and the books were restored. In 1993, a school principal in Hamilton (ON) removed the novel from the core reading list for Grade 10 after a complaint from a parent. In 1991, a black community group called PRUDE (Pride of Race, Unity and Dignity through Education) asked Saint John (NB) School District 20 to withdraw this book and Huckleberry Finn from reading lists.

Cause of objection: The novel, which contains the word “nigger,” might cause black students to be mocked because of racial stereotyping.

We finish FTRW 2011 with one of the most widely challenged books that tends to spark controversy. The books we have covered on the blog have been banned or challenged for a range of reasons and by different groups. These issues are not always black and white and often the desire to limit access or remove materials comes from a wish to protect young readers or deny the uglier parts of reality. The importance of Freedom to Read Week is to remember that all information wants to be free - it is not information or books or words that do damage and it is disrespectful and belittling to assume that readers "cannot handle" or will be damaged by book, movies, music, or images. What is important is for readers to be socially and culturally literate and to be able to assess and understand the relevance and viewpoints expressed in different kinds of media.

Happy Freedom to Read Week 2011!

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