What Is Freedom to Read Week?
Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that has been organized by the Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council for the past 36 years to encourage Canadians to recognize the importance of intellectual freedom, a right we are promised under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Freedom to Read Week, n.d.). Even though the Charter guarantees our rights as Canadians to receive or publicize ideas without restriction (the definition of intellectual freedom), Canada has a long history of censorship in libraries, bookstores, and schools and these threats still persist today. Over 100 books, magazines, and other written works have been challenged or attempted to be banned in Canada since 1970! In 2017 alone, 29 titles were challenged to limit their public access (Challenged Books and Magazines List, n.d.).
Freedom to Read Week recognizes the need for vigilance against efforts by governments, or other bodies for that matter, from undue influence over what we read. If left unchallenged, this type of censorship, frequently deployed by illiberal states of the past and present, can have a damaging effect upon our thoughts.
Examples of books that are frequently challenged include those with LGBTQ+ themes, ones that depict magic or wizardry, religious works, and books that use language which was commonplace at the time they were published (like 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' being challenged for its use of racial slurs).
Thankfully, at MHPL we are committed to reflecting the diversity of thought within our community. As such, you'll find a diverse range of books on our shelves - the Holy Bible, the Koran, and the Torah all share space on our shelves, as do books that describe in detail the big bang and scientific evolution.
What Can You Do To Celebrate Your Freedom to Read?
- Recognize that you have the right to decide for yourself what you choose to read.
- Educate and equip yourself more on the topic. We highly recommend reading this year’s Freedom to Read periodical (it’s free!)
- Engage with your friends, family, and peers in conversation about this topic by sharing your favourite challenged/banned books on social media and tag us (@MHPublicLibrary) and the Freedom to Read Week committee in your posts! If you need some inspiration, we've put together a list of previously challenged books that we have in our collection.
- Facebook - @FreedomToReadWeek
- Twitter - @Freedom_to_Read
- Instagram - @bookandperiodicalcouncil
- Support your local library by getting a library card! Libraries are the champions of intellectual freedom, and we need our communities’ support to continue thriving and fighting!
Borrow a Banned or Challenged Work
Celebrate this week by reading a commonly challenged work - you might find a title to enjoy on this Freedom to Read Week list we've created.
If you find a commonly challenged or banned work on the Freedom to Read's Challenged Works List that you would like to borrow, search our catalogue to find the title. If it's not in our collection, here are a few ways to get the book in your hands.