Monday, January 19, 2009

Books go on Having Enough Power to Dispute

According to the Freedom to Read list of challenged books, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale has not been challenged in Canada. That is, until now. It is 37th on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books in the 1990s.

Robert Edwards, the parent of a seventeen-year-old student in a grade 12 English class, launched a formal complaint about the Canadian novel citing foul language, anti-Christian overtones, violence and sexual degradation. His argument is that these issues violate the Toronto District School Board's policies of respect and tolerance.

A statement in the Toronto Star article reads, "I'm not looking to ban books," he said. "I'm just looking for justification as to why this is an appropriate book ... if the board can declare to me that in their view it fits within their policy, I'd like them to explain how." I am impressed because this is a parent who is challenging the book but who has also read it first.

A review committee has met and will eventually make a recommendation to the director of education.

Edwards' son has been assigned another book and will leave class during the discussions on The Handmaid's Tale.

According to Russell Morton Brown, a retired University of Toronto English
professor, The Handmaid's Tale is the most taught Canadian novel at the high school level. He stated that he is pleased that a complaint has been launched, "I'm glad to see that books go on having enough power to dispute."

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