12 Canadian books that have been challenged
Freedom to Read Week, which takes place Feb. 23-29, 2020, highlights the importance of free speech, free expression and how censorship affects us all.
Here are 12 Canadian books that have been challenged.
Released in 1985, The Handmaid's Tale was Atwood's breakthrough book on an international scale. The modern classic tells the story of a handmaid known as Offred who is trapped in a society where her only purpose is to conceive and bear the child of a powerful man.
The Handmaid's Tale won Atwood her second Governor General's Literary Award and scored her first nomination for the Booker Prize. It has since undergone several adaptations, for film, stage, ballet, opera and most recently, TV and as a graphic novel.
Atwood is one of Canada's best known and most prolific writers. She has written more than 40 books in nearly all literary forms including short stories, nonfiction, children's books and stage.
This One Summer is a graphic novel written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by her cousin, Jillian Tamaki. The book follows two teens who, over the course of a summer at their family cottage, find themselves tangled in a family crisis. This One Summer was published in 2014. It won an Eisner Award, an Ignatz Award, a Printz Honor, a Caldecott Honour and won the Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature – illustration.
Mariko Tamaki is a writer whose books include (you) Set Me On Fire, Saving Montgomery Sole and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me. Jillian Tamaki is an illustrator whose books include the comics Boundless and Supermutant Magic Academy and the picture book They Say Blue. They also worked together on the YA graphic novel Skim.
In The Wars, Robert Ross, a 19-year-old Canadian, decides to enlist in the First World War after the death of his sister to escape his grief and downtrodden life in the Victorian era. The story follows his submersion in the realities of the war. The Wars won the Governor General's Literary Award for English-language fiction in 1981.
Findley is also the author of Not Wanted on the Voyage, Headhunter and The Piano Man's Daughter. He died in 2002.
Essex County is a graphic novel that explores what it means to live, work, dream and even die in a Southwestern Ontario rural community. The population of this fictional landscape is represented from childhood to old age through its characters Lester, Lou and Anne. The illustrated black and white panels show the characters' stark external world and the vividness of their interior lives. Essex County was on Canada Reads 2011, when it was defended by Sara Quin.
Jeff Lemire is a New York Times bestselling graphic novelist whose work includes Roughneck, Essex County, The Underwater Welder, Royal City and Gord Downie's Secret Path. The Toronto comic creator has also worked on Justice League and Green Arrow for DC Comics and Hawkeye for Marvel.
Raziel Reid's young adult novel When Everything Feels like the Movies follows a teen named Jude who refuses to be anything other than his flamboyant, fashion-loving self. Even when it means he faces bullies at school and a difficult time at home.
Reid is a YA writer whose work addresses the challenges of being a gay adolescent. His other book is Kens.
Lives of Girls and Women chronicles a young girl's experience growing up in rural Ontario in the 1940s. The protagonist, Del Jordan, grapples with the crises that accompany the journey into womanhood. Lives of Girls and Women was first published in 1971. It was adapted for TV in 1994.
In The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Duddy, a third-generation member of a Jewish immigrant family in Montreal and a brash young man, who would torment teachers at the Jewish academy. He takes on four jobs in an effort to "be somebody" and eventually develop the lakeshore property of his dreams. In the process, he learns a few lessons about living. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz was published in 1959 and was adapted into a film in 1974.
Underground to Canada is a historical novel for young readers that tells the story of escaped slaves from the United States who travelled into Canada through the underground railroad. It was published in 1977.
Deborah Ellis's Three Wishes is a YA nonfiction book that follows the lives of children entangled in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as 11-year-old Mohammad, whose home was destroyed in the conflict, and 12-year-old Sam, whose sister became a suicide bomber.
Why it was challenged: Three Wishes was challenged for its historical representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for its portrayal of Israeli soldiers.
Lawrence Hill's novel The Book of Negroes follows a woman who was abducted from her village in West Africa as a child and sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. The Book of Negroes won the 2007 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best book overall and Canada Reads 2009, where it was championed by Avi Lewis.
The Diviners, part of a five-book fiction series, tells the story of Morag Gunn, a writer and single mother who grew up on the Canadian prairies and has no intention of leaving, because she believes the experience makes her tough. She struggles to understand the loneliness her teenage daughter feels. The Diviners was published in 1974 and won the Governor General's Literary Award for English-language fiction.
Margaret Laurence penned several classic Canadian novels throughout her celebrated career. She twice won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction — first in 1966 for A Jest of God and again in 1974 for The Diviners. She died in 1987.
Betty is inspired by the true story of Helen Betty Osborne, a young Cree woman with dreams of becoming a teacher, who was abducted and murdered in November of 1971. The graphic novel shines a light on the many missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
Why it was challenged: Betty was challenged for sensitive content.
David A. Robertson is an author and graphic novelist based in Winnipeg. His books include the graphic novels Will I See? and Sugar Falls, the YA novel Strangers and the picture book When We Were Alone.