On the Shelves: Help celebrate freedom to read

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Have you given any thought to your freedom to read lately? In many countries around the world, books are challenged or banned from schools and libraries on a regular basis. In so many places, certain books are not available simply because someone thought people shouldn’t be allowed to read them.

As a statement from freedomtoread.ca says, “Freedom to read can never be taken for granted. Even in Canada, a free country by world standards, books and magazines are banned at the border. Books are removed from the shelves in Canadian libraries, schools and bookstores every day. Free speech on the Internet is under attack. Few of these stories make headlines, but they affect the right of Canadians to decide for themselves what they choose to read.”

Books such as John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner,” and E.L. James’ “50 Shades of Grey” are some of the most challenged books in the United States over the last few years.

Why not take this time to celebrate your freedom to read by going to your local library and checking out a book? Maybe an old favourite, or something new, or even a book about the love of reading itself.

Why not try Reading “Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi? A memoir, it tells of a teacher in Iran who secretly gathers with her most committed students for two years to read forbidden western classics.

“The Shadow of the Wind,” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, is a personal favourite about a boy who finds solace in a mysterious book. Another great book, Will Schwalbe’s “The End of Your Life Book Club,” is a true story of a mother and son coming together through reading as she is dying of cancer.

Those are just a few of the wonderful books you can find to celebrate a love of reading.

During Freedom to Read Week (Feb. 23-March 1), the Newfoundland and Labrador Library Association launched a Book Bingo contest that continues until Friday, April 17. The contest entry is in the form of a bingo card that asks the entrant to identify an author and title for a book to match each of the 14 categories. Once completed, the card can be dropped off at any Newfoundland and Labrador Public Library, any Memorial University Library, or sent in by email, or snail mail.

Go to the NLLA’s contest website: http://nlla.ca/2014/02/18/enter-our-book-bingo-contest-for-freedom-to-read-week/ for details.

The grand prize winner, drawn at random from the correctly completed cards, will be announced early in May and will receive an iPad mini. Runner-up prizes include a bookstore gift card and selections of locally published books.

Emily Blackmore is the lending services librarian for the Newfoundland Public Libraries.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Library Association, Life Book Club, Newfoundland and Labrador Public Library Newfoundland Public Libraries

Geographic location: Canada, Alaska, United States Tehran Iran

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