Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Challenged Books

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (Book - 2006)

2007: After receiving a single complaint, the Halton (ON) Catholic District School Board ordered the withdrawal of these fantasy novels for young readers from the open shelves of libraries in elementary schools. The books were collected at library circulation desks, and students who wished to read the novels had to ask librarians for copies. The board also formed a committee to review the books. Within days, the Roman Catholic school board in Peterborough (ON) received two complaints about the novels and withdrew copies from school libraries. In Peterborough, school employees denied students access to the novels while the board set up a committee to review the novels. The Durham (ON) Catholic District School Board followed suit. The Calgary (AB) Catholic School District told employees to pull the novels from library shelves, not use the novels in classrooms and exclude the books from Scholastic book fairs. In Calgary, the school board also established a committee to review the novels.
Cause of objection: The stories, which are set in an alternative universe populated with talking animals, undermine belief in God and organized religion and promote atheism.
Update: In 2007, the Halton (ON) Catholic District School Board ignored the recommendation of its review committee and voted to ban the novels from schools. The board’s order proclaimed, “Philip Pullman’s trilogy of atheist ideology, carefully couched within the realm of fantasy for young readers, is in direct opposition to the mission statement and governing values of our board.” But a few weeks later, in 2008, the board of the Calgary (AB) Catholic School District decided to use The Golden Compass in schools. “There is no doubt that the text is harsh in terms of its language about organized religion and that it presents a consistently negative view of church, clergy and faith-based institutions; however, there are glimpses of light with opportunities for positive reflection,” the review document said. The board urged teachers, when using The Golden Compass, to use instruction guides to ensure “a carefully planned approach” and a Catholic focus.

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