Forbidden Fruit?

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 ;)


  1. I thought about tackling this on my blog but didn't want to get a fire up (yes, call me a coward) I've had all these emails warning me about this anti-religion movie and it really bothers me. My daughter wanted to read the book to see what the fuss was about and the most she said was that the book was rather "dumb." Forget the metaphors, if it doesn't entertain it's lost its punch and isn't worth notice.

    Second, all the anger over the anti-religion messages in the book--there's really no denying they're there and the author's intent but for goodness sake it irritates me that there is so much horrible smut and junk published and filmed every day that no one gets upset about compared to this silly book. I wish they'd tackle an issue like ch*ld expl*itation or something really serious rather than wasting so much energy on this trivial book.

  2. A new and cool book reviews site that give book reviews on video !

  3. Thanks Mark. That is pretty cool.

    Michelle- When I posted this yesterday, I thought I'd get more reaction from people. Really, I think if the message goes over kids' heads then why can't it just be read for an adventure story? Plus, kids are going to be exposed to different viewpoints other than their own as they grow. If parents instill their values in them, then what's there to be afraid of? It's an opportunity to talk about it. Kids need more credit then they're given.

    And yes, I agree, there are so many more important things to tackle. Child poverty, and expl*itation of many kinds. If people really want to 'think of the children', that's the place to start.

  4. If we shield our children from ideas we don't approve of, we prevent them from developing their own defenses against those ideas through the development of their own reason. If we model in our own lives the kind of people we want them to be, and the values we want them to have, we are likely to have more of a positive influence than if we simply keep our children in complete ignorance of ideas we don't like. So I'm glad, Michelle, that you allowed your daughter to decide for herself that the book was "dumb." (I haven't read the book myself, but it's come highly recommended to me, including by my religious sister-in-law.)

  5. What I can never get past is that these folks apparently need a world where their children will never encounter a thought alien to their religion. They're not doing them any favors by letting them get suckerpunched down the road. And if their faith is so shaky a fiction book can destroy it? Not much fait.

  6. Rob & Carrie- I agree. A work of fiction can't change your beliefs if you are truly faithful to them.


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