Resisting Censorship and Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Book Lists

In Canada, where books fill library shelves, and information on controversial topics is readily available, we take for granted our freedom to read. And yet, even here, books in our public libraries and schools are challenged and even removed all the time.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives all Canadians the fundamental right to the freedom of expression. The right to read whatever we want is an important part of that freedom. For this reason, Canadian libraries, including the County of Prince Edward Public Library and Archives, resist efforts to censor our library collections. We stand up for the freedom to read by providing access to materials that may be considered controversial by some in order to support the freedom of expression for all.

February 26 – March 4 is Freedom to Read Week. This is a good week to celebrate your freedom to read by dropping into one of our library branches and picking up a book that has been banned or challenged somewhere in the world. One of these books from the American Library Association’s list of most challenged and banned books might do the trick!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie

Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

This book has been challenged over and over again. It has been accused of being anti-family, culturally insensitive, and sexually explicit. Some have objected to the depictions of gambling and drug, alcohol and cigarette use. Others have objected to the violent depiction of bullying.

Perspeolis: The Story of a Childhood
Marjane Satrapi

The great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran in a country plagued by political upheaval and vast contraditions between public and private life.

This graphic novel has been petitioned against for its religious, political, and social viewpoint. The ALA has found that a large number of complaints are about books like Persepolis that focus on diverse characters and content. Persepolis has also been challenged for including offensive language, and for depicting gambling.

I Am Jazz
Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

This picture book presents the story of a transgender child who traces her early awareness that she is a girl in spite of male anatomy and the acceptance she finds through a wise doctor who explains her natural transgender status.

I am Jazz has been accused of being an inaccurate portrayal of the transgendered experience. It has been challenged in schools and libraries for promoting homosexual content and sex education. Many of the complaints come from those with a differing religious viewpoint, while many believe the book is unsuited for the target age group.

Our library does not own a copy of this book, but if you would like to read it, we can have it ordered and added to our collection.

The Bluest Eye
Toni Morrison

Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl in an America whose love for blonde, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, prays for her eyes to turn blue, so that she will be beautiful, people will notice her, and her world will be different.

This book has been protested against for containing controversial issues. Some people have also complained about it being sexually explicit and violent.

The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini

This coming-of-age novel traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant’s son, in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the atrocities of the present day.

This novel has been challenged for being sexually explicit and violent. Some have protested the depiction of homosexuality, the offensive language, and the religious viewpoint in the book.

A Stolen Life
Jaycee Dugard

This memoir of Jaycee Lee Dugard chronicles her kidnapping and the 18 years she was kept prisoner, then sexually and mentally abused. Jaycee was taken when she was 11 years old.

This memoir has been challenged for depictions of drug, alcohol, and cigarette use. Some have complained about the use of offensive language, and described it as inappropriately sexually explicit.

Looking for Alaska
John Green

Sixteen-year-old Miles’ first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.

Looking for Alaska has been challenged for being unsuited for its target age group. Some have complained that this young adult novel using inappropriately offensive language and is sexually explicit.

Fifty Shades of Grey
E.L. James

When Anastasia Steele, a young literature student, interviews wealthy young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, their initial meeting introduces Anastasia to an exciting new world that will change them both forever.

James’s popular book series has been widely challenged. Like other challenged books, it has been accused of using offensive language and being too sexually explicit. James’s series has also come under fire for being poorly written.

And Tango Makes Three
Justin Richardson

At New York City’s Central Park Zoo, two male penguins fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches.

Some have complained about the portrayal of homosexuality in this picture book, calling it anti-family. Complaints have included issues with the political and religious viewpoint expressed in the book. Some believe it be unsuited for its targeted age group.

Currently, we only have a digital copy of this book, which is not always the ideal format for picture books. If you would like to read a physical copy of this book, let us know, and we will order it in.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky

A series of letters to an unknown correspondent reveals the coming-of-age trials of a high-schooler named Charlie.

Complaints against this book include the depiction of drug, alcohol, and cigarette use. Some have also complained that it is sexually explicit and portrays homosexuality. Additionally, some found the language offensive, and believed it to be unsuited for its targeted age group.

If you want to read any of these books, drop by a branch to pick one up, use your library card to download the ebook, or give us a call to let us know so we can set a copy aside for you.

If you are interested, check out the Freedom to Read website to learn more about your right to read and check out more banned and challenged books.