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Sunday Surfing Selection: Freedom to Read Week – Feb. 26-Mar. 3, 2012

“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak
just because a baby can’t chew it.
~ Mark Twain


Freedom to Read Week – Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Their website includes activities and resources including “a selective timeline of book bannings, burnings, and other censorship activities” beginning at 259 BC.

Lawrence Hill awarded Freedom to Read prize for his grace under fire This year’s prize goes to the Hamilton, Ontario author of The Book of Negroes:

“Burning books is designed to intimidate people. It underestimates the intelligence of readers, stifles dialogue and insults those who cherish the freedom to read and write. The leaders of the Spanish Inquisition burned books, Nazis burned books.” ~ Lawrence Hill

Top 10 Banned Books Of The 20th Century I have class sets of 5 of them in my high school novel studies. (There are other, different lists out there.)

To Ban or Not to Ban: Books Recently Challenged – Indigo September 2011

Censorship in a different form and a dangerous venue for misinformation: In The ‘Undue Weight’ of Truth on Wikipedia, author Timothy Messer-Kruse writes of his struggle to have “the people who had assumed the role of keeper of this bit of history for Wikipedia” accept his verifiable changes to an article because they value secondary over primary sources.

Shakespeare and Native American Authors Among Those Banned From Tucson Schools – As part of its compliance with a state ban on ethnic studies, the Tucson Unified School District has banned its Mexican American Studies program and a number of books including The Tempest by William Shakespeare and Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years. Some of the authors weigh in at the update.

“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself.”
~ Potter Stewart

Book Burning by Edward Andersson

“Censorship always defeats it own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.”
~ Henry Steele Commager
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“Rather than defining “inappropriate” as “books that deal with topics I find squicky,” I prefer to define “inappropriate” as “books that deal with their subject matter in a way that a particular reader can’t make sense of.” When I talk about whether or not a book is “inappropriate,” what I talk about is whether or not the book handles its subject matter – from sex and drugs to puppies and rainbows – in a way that its actual or intended audience can engage with.” ~ The Literary Cricket

Dani Alexis

I’ve been re-reading Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series in preparation for the first movie, which comes out at the end of March.  I’ve also been re-thinking about the challenge that put The Hunger Games on the ALA’s “Books Challenged and/or Banned in 2011” list: a complaint from a New Hampshire mother to the Goffstown School Board in 2010.

This particular mother’s problems with The Hunger Games were, according to the School Library Journal, that the book gave her eleven-year-old daughter nightmares and might numb other children to the effects of violence.  “There is no lesson in this book except if you are a teenager and kill twenty-three other teenagers, you win the game and your family wins.”  So says the school board’s minutes, anyway.

Whether or not one agrees that this is the only possible take-away point from The Hunger Games (spoiler: I don’t), there’s other interesting issues involved…

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