Monday, February 27, 2006

Happy Freedom to Read Week!

So, I discovered in my surfing courtesy of NALD Headline News, that this week - Feb 26-March 4 is Freedom to Read Week in Canada.

The event, according to the website:

encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There is quite a lot of interesting information on the site including a list of books that have been banned or challenged in Canada over the years (and why) and a selection of articles on free speech/what can and/or should be published, including a few articles on Children's Books - specifically:

Challenging Children's Lit: A review by Ken Setterington (scroll to page 14 of PDF)

Challenged Children's Books : A Timeline, by Leslie McGrath (scroll to page 17 of PDF)

Provides some food for thought. For instance, I learnt that Robert Munsch's Thomas' Snowsuit was deemed controversial due to a perceived lack of respect for parents in the work and that the Harry Potter series has come under fire due to its occult themes.

Setterington also starts his article above with the example of a book by an author named Caroyln Beck called The Waiting Dog - which is more controversial. It is the story of a dog who has a fantasy about eating the mailman which gets quite graphic (while rhyming). The cover sports a humourous warning which probably shouldn't be taken lightly: "Do you have the guts to read this book?" Having not read the book, I'm not too sure what to think based on some reviews I quickly read on the Internet. I can understand the appeal it may have for older children, and particularly boys, but agree that it probably isn't suitable for younger audiences.

I also have memories of regularly walking two blocks out of my way as a child to avoid my neighbour's dog after what I still remember as a terrifying encounter with it. In my version I got jumped on and bit by the dog. In the neighbours version, the puppy was "playing" and "nibbled". Had I not been scared of the thing to begin with (dogs and bees can smell fear, you know), that may have been accurate, but in any event it isn't how I remember it. So on a personal note, I have scary dog issues (AND that dog is eerily similar to the pup down the street), so I probably wouldn't have appreciated the book as a child. I'm STILL not a dog lover and am suddenly pondering the connection....

In other news on the web, ABC Canada awarded CBC Radio with a National Literacy Awareness Award. The award is known as the Joycee after the Honourable Joyce Fairbairn, P.C. who is a Liberal Senator from Alberta and a large literacy advocate. I had the chance to hear her speak in 2004 at Literacy Action Day on Parliament Hill.

Two pieces of interest courtesy of Book Moot:

1. In preparation for the release of the paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on July 25, Scholastic is sponsoring an online sweepstakes in which Potter fans can win an iPod etched with the crest of Harry’s school, Hogwarts Academy. More info on their site HERE.

2. Fun quiz HERE to find out which literature classic you are.

Finally, courtesy of Big A little a, I learnt that April 23 is World Book Day.


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