“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” ~ Ray Bradbury
Freedom To Read Week 2022 just ended, but hopefully the discussion about the problems of censorship and the importance of intellectual freedom in democratic societies will continue year-round. Organized by The Book And Periodical Council, Freedom To Read Week is celebrated annually in Canada to draw attention to various attempts by individuals, groups and organizations to restrict our rights to express and access a full range of knowledge, ideas and opinions. In light of the recent news stories out of the States where a Tennessee school board banned the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus and other States are attempting to ban books on race, discussions about intellectual freedom are as crucial as ever before.
What these recent book challenges highlight for me is that we need to be talking more about intellectual freedom and how it also belongs to children and teens. They also have the right to explore as widely as possible different concepts and beliefs through a variety of media. While those materials need to be developmentally appropriate, and parents are ultimately responsible for what their children read and view, it is still imperative to make available a diverse range of materials for youth that represent various viewpoints and experiences, even if — especially if — those viewpoints and experiences differ from the dominant culture.
For one of my school assignments this month, I had to create a presentation on a topic that was important to me, and I chose intellectual freedom. Watch it all the way to the end to see which challenged books I recommend for kids and teens!
Do you have any favourite books that have been challenged, either here or in other countries in the world?