Op-Ed: Book banning comes to Canada

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Earlier this year, Canadians watched as a rampage of book banning occurred all over the US. Now it seems this practice may be coming to Canada as well.

Columbia University/Website

What’s happening:

In a public high school library in Mississauga, Ontario, books such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and even The Very Hungry Caterpillar, can no longer be found.

A new process, intended to ensure library books are inclusive, appears to have led some schools to remove thousands of books solely because they were published in 2008 or earlier.

The empty shelves of the public-school library (CBC NEWS/Website)

Why this is an issue:

As a student currently studying English literature, I believe there are important critical thinking skills developed from reading a text with outdated views or opposing beliefs that cannot be understated. How are students meant to know the difference between right and wrong if they are not allowed to explore and experience those subjects on their own?

On another note, it is simply illogical and counteractive to remove books from the past that educate students on Canada’s history, antisemitism, racism, or celebrated literary classics. While these may be considered sensitive or in some cases, “controversial” topics, they still need to be taught in classes. It is of the utmost importance that we do not forget our past, even if it is not one to be proud of, so that it is never repeated.

The concept of a book’s worth being attached to when it was written is utterly ridiculous. While reading Shakespeare and Charles Dickens may not be your idea of a thrilling read, it is crucial to understanding how language, the art of storytelling, and our society have developed over time. These texts have shaped and influenced many aspects of our present-day lives outside of the literary world. They have shaped ways of thinking and been catalysts for social movements. Their impact today cannot be overlooked.

Library of Toronto’s banned book display (CP24/Website)

Good News:

The good news is the Ford government is currently in the process of putting an end to this practice. So, with any luck, this will be a contained situation and will not spread further to other schools or other provinces.

Additionally, the increase in banned books over the last year has prompted some libraries and bookstores to create specific displays for banned books to encourage readers to stand up against this injustice. So, I encourage all of you to pick up a banned book, take a stand, and expand your horizons.

Kylie is a second year Arts student who plans on majoring in English. Most days when Kylie's not studying, she can be found reading, baking, drinking coffee, or talking about her three dogs. She's very passionate about education, human rights, and literature.