Did you love The Hunger Games? Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Have you ever read a book by John Green, Neil Gaiman, or Lauren Myracle?
Would it surprise you to know that these books and authors, and many more, have been the targets of challenges meant to stop teens just like you from reading them? In fact, many of the 100 most challenged books of the last decade have been books for kids and teens - you can see the whole list here.
Every February Canadians celebrate Freedom to Read Week as a reminder of one of the fundamental freedoms set forth in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression - which includes reading and writing. We're lucky to live in a society that is mostly free from censorship, but even here in Canada we have to keep our eyes open. There are always people who want to "protect" teens by taking away books that offend them - like the ones I just mentioned:
But books are important, especially difficult, painful, possibly offensive books. As YA author Cheryl Rainfield says,
"Books saved me - realistic books that helped me know I wasn’t alone and fantasy that helped me escape. Books helped me survive the extreme abuse that was my childhood and teenhood. I know how important it is to know you’re not alone in your pain. That’s part of why I wrote Scars...I know what it’s like to have no one to turn to, nothing to help you hang on, except books. To have a book that might help another teen be kept from them—it seems wrong to me on a deep level."
It seems wrong to us, too. That's why we hold the Freedom to Read Week Contest every year. This year, the question is, "If you didn't have the freedom to choose what you read, what would that look like?"
You can enter in one of three ways:
- Make a poster (draw, paint or use photography and other graphic arts, 8½ x 14” or 11 x 17”)
- Write a poem, short story or essay (max. 300 words)
- Create a film (3 min. or less)
All content must be your own work, except for short, cited quotations. Contest is open to Calgary students in grades 7 to 9. Include your name, school, grade and telephone number with your entry.
Send your project by e-mail to
AND upload to Teens Create
OR submit a hardcopy to any Calgary Public Library location.
One entry per person.
Deadline for submissions is Friday, February 15, 2013