I just finished listening to CBC Radio's Q found in the "Related" section of this news article on book challenging. If you do not wish to listen to the program, the article pretty much sums it up. Book challenging is in the news here in Canada because the Halton Catholic school board is reviewing whether or not to pull The Golden Compass from their shelves after a complaint. I at least give the school board kudos for reading the book and taking the time to discuss it, rather than just pull it from the shelves.
A Catholic or any religious school is going to be run a little differently than your average public school. The parents of students are looking for a specific type of education geared towards their beliefs and values. However, as Pearce Carefoote, author of Forbidden Fruit, a book on banned books, says, even bad ideas need discussion. Here's a perfect opportunity for the school to say, 'we don't agree with the author and here's why.' During the program, Philip Pullman also makes a good point:
"If you want people to read a book, then make a fuss about it, make it controversial. Tell your children they are not to read this book under any circumstances. What is more likely to make them go to the shelf and take it down and read it from there?"
It's not surprising that The Golden Compass has been challenged. A couple of book friends received emails urging them not to let their children read it because it's anti-religious. Plus, the new movie just brings it to people's minds. The book came out 10 years ago. People are just getting riled up now? I wonder how much of this controversy will actually encourage people to see the movie.
Carefoote points out that book challenging is on the rise but actual banning has decreased. He seems to believe that it's because of more reading material and a more literate society, but he also so says that book challengers are 'disenfranchised'. So, does that mean that more people are feeling disenfranchised or that more authors are writing controversial books?
Forbidden Fruit should be an interesting read for Banned Book week when it comes around again. I found it interesting the the most famous cases of book challenging in Canada were of books written by well known female Canadian authors. We Canadian chicks...what a bunch of trouble makers ;)