Freedom to Read

It’s Freedom to Read Week here in Canada! Every year, we have a week to celebrate the freedom  to read whatever books we want, particularly those that have been challenged or banned in the past. It’s like the American Banned Books Week, which is in the fall. Not that we need a specific week to tell us that censorship is bad, but it’s a nice reminder, especially for people that don’t know or don’t think about the issue of censorship.

Every year, I try to read a banned or challenged book around this time. Sadly, this isn’t a difficult task…it’s appalling how many books are still challenged every year. This year, I decided to read something different from my usual fare, and I chose Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg. This collection of poems was actually the subject of an obscenity trial in the 1950s. You can read a bit more about the collection in its Wikipedia article.

I’ll be perfectly honest and say I didn’t like the collection…I’m a traditionalist when it comes to poetry. To me, rhyming schemes and metre are what make poems special. The ability of poets to express themselves within such tight constraints is amazing, and if I’m going to read free verse, I prefer it in the longer, novel-in-verse model. However, I’m glad I read the collection. Definitely a change from my usual!

(On a side note, I’m also in the process of reading To Kill A Mockingbird, which has also been banned…I didn’t choose to read this because of that, however!)

To finish off this post, I’m going to share this Freedom to Read infographic that a fellow librarian posted on Facebook. And I encourage everyone to read a challenged or banned book!

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