Freedom to Read Week 2016


The end of February heralds the return of Freedom to Read Week, which runs Feb 21-27. This week is meant to inspire Canadians to think critically about their intellectual freedom, and to educate the public about books being challenged and banned. There are many books that are still challenged and pulled from the shelves of schools and library’s every year and which impacts the rights of Canadians.

To celebrate Freedom to Read Week we have decided to highlight two often challenged children’s books from our Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity.

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah H. Brannen

UncleBobbysWeddingUncle Bobby’s Wedding  was banned due to its depiction of two men getting married but the reasons cited were “unsuited to age group”1 and as “advocate[ing] an illegal activity”.2

The story features a young Guinea Pig named Chloe who fears that her favourite Uncle won’t have time for her anymore after he gets married. But once she gets to know her uncle’s Fiancé better she becomes excited to have two uncles instead of one.  It is a charming book with beautiful illustrations which tells the story about a young girl who worries about losing the affection of her Uncle when he gets married – and it just so happens that he is marrying another man. In the most recent challenge to this book that could be found we are happy to report that the book remained on the shelves.

Asha’s Mums by Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse

AshasMumsThe story in Asha’s Mums revolves around a young girl (Asha) who needs her permission form filled in by her parents so that she can go on the class field trip to the Science Centre. When her form comes back with two moms listed, Asha’s teacher insists that her form isn’t filled out correctly, and she will not be able to go on the field trip until it is. The rest of the story shows the other student’s disbelief turn to acceptance and even the teacher admits there is nothing wrong with it if “they’re nice to you and you like them” (Elwin & Paulse, 15). This book was banned from public schools in Surrey, B.C. in 1997 due to its “promotion of homosexual lifestyles”.3 A lawsuit was launched against the school board and in 2002 the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the school board’s decision on the basis that public schools are required to be “secular, pluralistic, and respectful of diversity”.4

1Uncle Bobby’s Wedding.” Favorite Banned Books. Accessed February 16 2016.
2Challenge to UNCLE BOBBY’S WEDDING Rejected in Missouri.CBLDF. Accessed February 16 2016.
3Challenged Books and Magazines List.Freedom to Read Week. Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council. 28. Accessed February 16 2016.