Celebrating Freedom to Read Week 2017! (Part 2)

March 1, 2017

Freedom To Read Week 2017

The Freedom to Read Week celebration continues!

Here are 5 more must-read articles—all from the Journal of Canadian Studies—on books that have at one time been deemed too controversial for schools and libraries across Canada (and in some cases all across North America). FREE-TO-READ this week!


6. MOURNING BECOMES MARGARET: LAURENCE’S FAREWELL TO FICTION by Nora Foster Stovel, Journal of Canadian Studies 34.4

In 1978, a school trustee in Etobicoke, ON, tried but ultimately failed to remove Margaret Laurence’s A Jest of God from high school English classes. The second instalment in her Manawaka series, A Jest of God depicts the unhappy life of an elementary school teacher in small-town Manitoba. The trustee objected to the novel’s portrayal of teachers in the novel as promiscuous and morally loose.

This article by Nora Foster Stovel addresses the censorship controversies that surrounded Laurence’s Manawaka novels in the 1970s and ’80s.


7. FAITH AND FICTION: THE NOVELS OF CALLAGHAN AND HOOD by Barbara Helen Pell, Journal of Canadian Studies 18.2

In 1972, two Christian ministers tried to remove Such is my Beloved by Morley Callaghan from a high school in Huntsville, ON. Set in the 1930s, the novel tells the story of a young Roman Catholic Priest who tries to persuade two women to abandon their lives as prostitutes. The ministers objected to the novel’s depiction of prostitution as well as its use of strong language.

Barbara Helen Pell’s writing on Morley Callaghan’s fiction concerns this complex interaction between the secular and the religious realm.



8. THE EXPLODING FRAME: USES OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN TIMOTHY FINDLEY’S THE WARS by Eva-Marie Kröller, Journal of Canadian Studies 16.3-4

In 2011, parents complained to Ontario’s Bluewater District School Board about the use of this novel—which tells the story of a Canadian soldier during World War I—in Gr. 12 English classes. After students defended the novel’s literary value, and the school board’s textbook review committee recommended it be kept in the curriculum, the novel remained in high school classrooms.

Eva-Marie Kröller’s analysis of photography in The Wars takes a closer look at the novel’s visceral depiction of war.


9. ALICE MUNRO: UNFORGETTABLE, INDIGESTIBLE MESSAGES by Helen Hoy, Journal of Canadian Studies 26.1

In 1976, a high school principal in Peterborough, ON, removed the Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro from a Gr. 13 reading list because of its explicit language and descriptions of sex scenes.

This article by Helen Hoy discusses how Munro’s stories work to challenge narrow conceptions of reality, and give voice to what is muted, unremarked, or silenced in society.





The Bible consistently tops the list of the most-read books in the world, but in 2015, it also ranked #6 on the American Library Association’s list of books most objected to at US public schools and libraries. In Canada, the Bible was challenged in 1997 when bible verses appeared in an anti-gay campaign published in the Star Phoenix, a daily newspaper in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

This article by Preston Jones concerns the lack of scholarly attention given to the Bible’s place in Canadian public life.

To view the complete list of works that have been challenged in Canada, go to the Challenged Works Database at http://www.freedomtoread.ca/challenged-works/

To learn how you can support Freedom to Read Week 2017, please visit http://www.freedomtoread.ca/

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: