This week marks the 25th celebration in Canada of Freedom to Read week (22 – 29 February 2009). Promoting awareness of censorship and the theme of choice in reading materials, events across the country acknowledge banned books and books that deal with uncomfortable issues.
Writing workshops are being held to discuss difficulties in writing about issues that are sometimes censored. Above all, honesty and openness is a part of the festivities. Some locations are holding used book sales of challenged material, and others are providing a space for community members to get together for a cup of coffee and the discussion of controversial volumes that have impacted their lives in some way.
I particularly like the idea of the initiative “Bookcrossing: Free a Challenged Book”, where people across Canada (and around the world) are invited to consult a list of challenged books, find examples on their own shelves or perhaps in a used bookstore, and then to “release” the book into public, leaving it on a public bench or café counter, for someone else to find. Participants have the option of ‘tagging’ the book using a printed label, and registering the individual book with the website, then logging in to see where their book has been found. It’s all about spreading the word and refusing to let words be censored.