Freedom to Read Week, 2024

In celebration of Freedom to Read Week, we’ve created a featured collection of challenged and banned titles for you to read in print and online.

Included in the featured collection are several titles by Canadian authors. Margaret Atwood finds many of her books banned in countries, school boards, and individual libraries around the globe. Her debut novel, The Edible Woman, and Surfacing are both early titles that were challenged or banned outside of Canada. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of Atwood’s most banned books and is continuously contested. In 2008, the book was challenged by a parent of a grade 12 student in Toronto. The following year a review panel of the Toronto District School Board recommended the novel be kept in the curricula.

Some titles that have been banned in other countries have caused ripple effects in Canada. Maus, a graphic novel depicting the Holocaust by Art Spiegelman, was banned by a Tennessee school board in early January 2022. By the end of the month, the 1986 book was at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list and eventually sold out due to high demand. Libraries across Canada had readers lining up to borrow the title.

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event which highlights intellectual freedom and encourages Canadians to actively defend their right to publish, read, and write freely. Originally founded by the Book and Periodical Council, it is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Starting this year three additional organizations – Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian Urban Library Council, and the Ontario Library Association – will join to lead this campaign into the future.

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Categories: Featured Collections