Tag Archives: Freedom to Read

Unlocking Ideas: Celebrating Freedom to Read Week

an image of books under lock and key

In a small town named Vaughan, the public library has always been a beacon of knowledge, a sanctuary for readers of all ages.

However, a recent controversy has changed its atmosphere entirely. Due to a series of complaints from a vocal minority, the library administration decided to place certain books under lock and key, making them accessible only upon special request.

As you enter the library, you notice a prominent sign at the entrance: “Restricted Section – Please Inquire at the Front Desk.” Curiosity piqued, you approach the front desk where a librarian greets you with a forced smile, her eyes betraying a hint of unease.

“Welcome to Vaughan Public Libraries. How may I assist you today?” she asks, trying to maintain a semblance of normality amidst the palpable tension.

“I heard about the restricted section. Can you tell me more about it?” you inquire, intrigued yet apprehensive about what you might discover.

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Freedom to Read Week

This year’s Freedom to Read Week took place from February 20 – 26 and there is no better time to think about and honour our freedom to read! Similar to Banned Books Week in the U.S., Freedom to Read Week encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This topic has been weighing on my mind lately as news reports out of the States mention more and more books being banned in student classrooms. While this is not a new or novel idea, as book banning goes together with the concept of books themselves, it has definitely been something that I have been thinking about lately.

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Freedom to Read Week 2021

Book Cover of George by Alex GinoThis year’s Freedom to Read week kicks off tomorrow, February 21, so let’s celebrate our freedom to read by exploring books that have been challenged or banned, contested in some way! Every year, Freedom to Read week and Banned Books Week (in the fall) roll around and we’re prompted to talk about why it’s important to have the freedom to access all sorts of different books, whether they agree with our point of view or not. We might think that banned or contested books would probably be extreme in their content, but in fact, most of us will definitely recognize one of consistently contested or banned books/series: Harry Potter. Yes, Harry has been being hunted down not just by Voldemort, but also by members of the general public. Apparently it’s been contested since the series came out, mostly for religious reasons – luring kids into practicing witchcraft! – but can you imagine a world where Harry Potter was successfully banned? Where we’d have had to as kids to exchange contraband Potter books in order to get our hands on the latest release, if at all? Actually, I can imagine that kind of world, especially since 2020 gave us, among other things, the national security law in Hong Kong, not to mention earlier this year, Hungary made LGBTQIA+ disclaimers mandatory on children’s books. So it’s a good time to pause and not take for granted our freedom to read.

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