Post prepared by Rebekah Glendinning & Sandy Iverson
Banning books may seem like a thing of the past, but every year many books are challenged based on their content or language. In recent years, most challenged books contain LGBTQ+ themes, demonstrating a clear pattern in what type of content is targeted. Banned Books Week calls attention to those books that have been challenged and seeks to reaffirm our commitments against censorship and towards intellectual freedom.
Banned Books Week was launched in the USA in 1982 The event was created to promote conversation around banned books in a time when challenges and protests against books were becoming more prevalent. (Read more about the history of Banned Books Week here). The event is now organized by a national alliance, including the American Library Association, and holds to tradition by drawing attention to the number of books that are banned and challenged every year, and to directly oppose the censorship of books. Banned Books Week takes place in the last week of September every year, this year’s theme is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.
In honor of this year’s banned book week, we are highlighting a few books in our collection that have been frequently or recently challenged or banned in communities across North America
George, by Alex Gino. This book is in the Curriculum Resource Centre library. It is a novel for middle-school readers about a boy who identifies as a girl.
Beyond magenta: Transgender teens speak out by Susan Kuklin is another young adult title held in the Curriculum Resource Centre that is frequently challenged for LGBTQ content.
Stamped from the beginning: the definitive history of racist ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. This award-winning book discusses the history or racism in North America.
The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This young adult novel explores the experiences of an Indigenous teen who attends an all-white school where the only other ‘Indian’ is the school mascot. It was challenged for profanity and sexual references.
The handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood. This now-famous novel due to the very popular television show is frequently challenged for profanity, sexual degradation and being anti-Christian.
The diviners by Margaret Laurence is considered one of the classics of Canadian literature. It has been often challenged by Christian groups as blasphemous & obscene.
The book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill has been challenged for offensive language (or was it for telling the truth about racism and slavery in early Canadian history?)