Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Canadian Authors Celebrate Their Favourite Banned Books for Freedom to Read Week!

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Freedom to Read Week

Every year in Canada, books and magazines are challenged, restricted and turned away at the border. Without a vigorous, ongoing defence, both here and around the world, censorship will continue to erode our intellectual freedom. So we are celebrating one of our favourite literary events of the year, Freedom to Read Week, and speaking out against censorship. This year, we've asked some of our favourite authors and book lovers to talk about books that have been challenged and which they have loved, and to explain why these titles, and other challenged books, are essential to our literary and intellectual landscape.

Looking to add your voice to the fight against censorship? You can get involved with Freedom to Read Week's events. Check out the website for full details.

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Elisabeth de Mariaffi on Of Mice and Men and Bridge to Terabithia:

I saw Of Mice and Men performed as a play when I was eleven years old, at Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre, only a year or so after reading Bridge to Terabithia, and perhaps two years after a childhood friend died suddenly. Each of these stories taught me most of what I know about the depth of complicated characters, about the kind of grief that comes with conflict, and about loss. I cried in the theatre, and I cried reading Bridge, but to this day, what I remember is the compassion and camaraderie of Lenny’s relationship with George, juxtaposed against the heartbreak of the decision George is left with. And I still deeply wish for an island, and a river, and a rope swing to get me there.

Kevin Hardcastle on Deliverance:

While I've gone on the record saying that Dickey pushes the tiller hard to one extreme in his depiction of rural people, I also think that he's written a book that shows other worlds just a few hours down the road, and that there's less civilization in our lives than we'd like to believe. In Canada, we are rarely allowed to linger on the reality that there's a dark underbelly to much of what we take for granted, that Canadian people can be very potent when it come to violence and hardness. This is as important to acknowledge as all of the good in our society, and our communities, urban or rural. Sure, it might be difficult to look, but that is a sorry reason not to give readers the chance to do so. Wrestling with those concepts gives us the ability to see the world for what it is, and to try to turn it in the right direction little by little.

Teva Harrison on Of Mice and Men:

Growing up at the end of the Oregon Trail, the first stories I learned in school were all about the triumph of pioneers and the optimism of America — until I read Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck's novella taught me the flip-side, what happens when destiny fails to manifest — when hopes are tenuous, loneliness unresolved and living is just scraping by. This book offers a chance to deepen compassion, and a reminder of the value of kindness and opportunity.

Becky Toyne on Snow White in New York:

Snow White in New York by Fiona French was challenged in Prince George in 2006 on the grounds that it depicted violence unsuitable for young children. I've always thought of this stunning book -- a retelling of the Snow White story set in 1920s New York City, complete with Art Deco everything, smoky clubs and gun-toting wise guys -- as more of a fashion-fetish read than a kids' picture book. But anyway, shouldn't the beautiful-princess-gets-her-handsome-prince narrative (because, yes, it all ends well for Snow White if you read past the assassination attempts to the end) get as much scrutiny for what it teaches young children as the "violent" administering of the poisoned cherry/apple?

Vikki Vansickle on Bridge to Terabithia:

It's not always easy to love your family. People die, even children. Life isn't fair. Kids know these things to be true, but too often we want to shield them from these truths. Bridge to Terabithia is the first book I read as a child that made me feel like an adult: understood and respected. Author Katherine Paterson wasn't telling me how to feel, she acknowledged the feelings I already had and wasn't sure what to do with. All readers should be so lucky.

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