Freedom to Read Kit 2017

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Welcome dear readers and fellow free expression supporters, to the 2017 Freedom to Read review. Twenty seventeen marks the 33rd year of the review and Freedom to Read Week, a cross-Canada event encouraging us to think about and reaffirm our commitment to intellectual freedom, guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The review examines issues of censorship, challenges to reading materials, surveillance and access to information. Here are some of the highlights.

The 2017 champion of free expression is author and activist Charles Montpetit. Regular readers will know Charles by his reports about Quebec in earlier issues of this review. In an interview with Mark Leiren-Young (page 10), Montpetit, whose books have been challenged, discusses his involvement in free expression issues, his activism in Quebec and the differences in censorship between Quebec and English Canada.

Robin Stevenson, award-winning author of 19 children’s books, including Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community, writes about the obstacles she faced when visiting classrooms and libraries to talk to children about the LGBTQ rights movement (page 18).

In public libraries across Canada, graphic novels are among the most circulated materials, yet they’re also among the most often challenged. In “Drawing Ire” (page 14), Helena Dong looks at why the genre is so often targeted.

This year’s Freedom to Read artist is Canadian illustrator and cartoonist Jillian Tamaki. Her arresting work graces the review’s cover, the 2017 Freedom to Read Week poster and the bookmark. Her graphic novel This One Summer, co-created with her cousin Mariko Tamaki, has been challenged in American libraries for its mature themes and alleged profanity.

Should Canadian colleges and universities put warning labels on course content? This hot-button debate is a growing concern. In “Words of Caution” (page 16), Canadian professor Jen Reid thoughtfully examines the issue from all sides: the students upon whom it can have the greatest impact—for better and for worse—and the universities whose responsibility it is to be open to ideas of all kinds in the pursuit of intellectual freedom.

You’ll also find our annual summary of challenged books and magazines and our “Get Involved” section filled with great ideas for activating your community and defending your right to choose what you read. For more information about freedom to read, please visit

Enjoy your freedom to read for another year!

— Marg Anne Morrison
Chair, Freedom of Expression Committee
Book and Periodical Council


By Marg Anne Morrison

Vital Statistics
By Franklin Carter

Front Lines

Everybody’s a Critic: Results from the 2015 Annual Challenges Survey
By Alvin M. Schrader

Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: Promoting First Nations’ Access to Culturally Relevant Literature,
One Book at a Time
By Donald Lynch

Superheroes of Free Expression:
Three Canadian Organizations You
Should Know About
By Reanna Sartoretto


Champion of Free Expression: Charles Montpetit
By Mark Leiren-Young


10 Challenged Graphic Novels
By Reanna Sartoretto

Drawing Ire: Graphic Novels Are
Incredibly Popular and Frequently
By Helena Dong

Words of Caution: Trigger Warnings, Academic Freedom and the
Changing Nature of Reading
By Jen Reid

Bringing Pride to Classrooms:
How Schools Can Support Equity and Inclusion with Author Visits
By Robin Stevenson

Get Involved

Challenged Books and Magazines

Resisting Censorship in Canada
By Franklin Carter

Under Fire: A Brief History
of Book Burnings
By Reanna Sartoretto

15 Things You Can Do

Join the Conversation: How to Reach Us During Freedom to Read Week

Are You a Free Expression Superstar?


Editor: Jaclyn Law

Consulting Editor: Franklin Carter

Design: Big Guy Studio
Gil Martinez, Creative Director
Boyd Gordon, Designer

Contributors: Franklin Carter, Helena Dong, Mark Leiren-Young, Donald Lynch, Marg Anne Morrison, Jen Reid, Reanna Sartoretto, Alvin M. Schrader, Robin Stevenson

Freedom of Expression Committee
Ron Brown, Franklin Carter, Cailin Cooper, Sandy Crawley, Brendan de Caires, Teri Degler, Phil Dwyer, Kate Edwards, Amanda Hopkins, Camilia Kahrizi, Mark Leiren-Young, Anne McClelland, Marg Anne Morrison (chair), Lauren Perruzza, Alvin M. Schrader, Becky Toyne
Ex Officio: Stephanie Fysh

Poster and Cover Illustration: Jillian Tamaki
Jillian Tamaki is a cartoonist and illustrator. She grew up in Calgary but now lives in Toronto. She is the co-creator with her cousin Mariko Tamaki of the graphic novels SKIM and This One Summer, which was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 2015. Jillian is also the author of SuperMutant Magic Academy, a book that anthologizes her webcomics of the same name. Her new graphic novel, Boundless, will be released in June 2017. To find more information, visit

Please send your comments and ideas for future issues of Freedom to Read to the Book and Periodical Council, Suite 107, 192 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5T 2C2. Phone: 416-975-9366 Fax: 416-975-1839 E-mail: [email protected]