Last week, students at Georgian Bay Secondary School (GBSS) have been learning about the intellectual freedom to read, and about challenging censorship during the annual Freedom to Read week in Canada.
The national project, now in its 30th year, is designed to help Canadians to be committed to intellectual freedom, as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Every day of last week, there were announcements at the school publicizing the cause. They feature students admitting that they have read a banned book, outlining its central message, explaining why it was banned, and saying why they enjoyed reading it.
GBSS English teacher Ron Pretli is responsible for bringing this event to the school.
“Freedom to Read Week is a great way to teach students about how some of their favourite novels have been challenged or banned in schools and public libraries,” said Pretli. “They’ve been surprised that books such as “The Hunger Games” to “Harry Potter”, to even children’s books like “Thomas’ Snowsuit”, have been challenged.”
Aside from the entertaining daily announcements, there were various other ways for the students to be aware of the event. Throughout the school, there were posters to draw attention to the event, as well as a display in the school library.
Other books that have been banned or challenged include “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton, ”Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, “Green Eggs And Ham” by Dr. Seuss, along with many other popular and acclaimed novels.
The event, ultimately, is used to publicize the importance of literacy and to encourage students to discover the various reading options available to them.
Pretli hopes that this will help students to discover new books.
“Some of the challenged and banned books are on display in the school library, and students are welcome to sign these books out,” said Pretli.