Archives for posts with tag: freedom to read week

From right: Paula Todd talks to Brian MacLeod Rogers and Ron Brown at Read. Write. Speak.

This year, Freedom to Read Week in Canada saw more than 65 events take place in schools, libraries and public spaces across the country. In Toronto, the Book and Periodical Council programmed an event with this year’s Freedom to Read Week Champion of Free Expression Brian MacLeod Rogers in conversation with investigative reporter and author Paula Todd (pictured).

The event — entitled Read. Write. Speak. Free Expression Champions on Self-Censorship, Libel Law and Access to Information — also included the presentation of two awards for  free expression advocacy. Ron Brown was awarded the Writers’ Union of Canada’s Freedom to Read Award, and Brian Campbell was awarded the Canadian Library Association’s Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada Award.

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom: a celebration with a serious purpose. This marked the 31st year of the event, which is a programme of the Book and Periodical Council.



Kaleb Alexander as Lawrence Hill defending The Book of Negroes. Birdtown & Swanville perform their Freedom to Read Week play, Dear Censor

For this year’s Freedom to Read Week in Canada – the 30th anniversary event – I was honoured to get the chance to collaborate with some hard-working friends who are not part of the book biz, and whose work I greatly admire. On Tuesday, February 25 at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, the Book & Periodical Council, which organizes Freedom to Read Week, and Birdtown & Swanville, a local theatre club, presented DEAR CENSOR: a short play about censorship.

The play featured letters by Margaret Atwood, Lawrence Hill, Margaret Laurence, Rohinton Mistry, Ann Patchett and others, written at different points in time in defence of their own work. Birdtown & Swanville turned these letters into a play about censorship that was original, unusual and a first for Freedom to Read Week. Oh, and it was also fabulous and very fun.

The event got a feature write-up in Hazlitt.

Birdtown & Swanville’s Aurora Stewart de Pena appeared on CBC Radio One’s Metro Morning to talk it up, and Gill Deacon got well behind it on her drive-home show, Here & Now.

Further coverage for this year’s Freedom to Read Week included:

  • An interview with author and former children’s librarian Ken Setterington in the 49th Shelf.
  • An essay by a Calgary student about free expression that was published in the Huffington Post.
  • A challenged books quiz in Quill & Quire.
  • An info-graphic about book challenges in Canada at CBC Books.
  • An article about intellectual freedom in Canada from CJFE.

Freedom to Read Week is a programme of the Book & Periodical Council. The annual Freedom to Read Week event in Toronto is organized by the Book & Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Events Committee, on which I am a volunteer. I am also a freelance publicist for Freedom to Read Week.


image: FTRW banner


Freedom to Read Week celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with events in schools, libraries and pubic spaces across Canada.

A celebration of the free exchange of ideas and information, Freedom to Read Week is also an annual reminder of the threats to roll back such freedom. A fun event, with a serious message.

Visit their website here to find out information about books and periodicals that have been challenged in Canada, and details of events taking place across the country.


The Book and Periodical Council and Raconteurs Present: Censored – Bruce Walsh from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.

On Feb. 28 a massive crowd gathered at The Garrison in Toronto for The Book and Periodical Council and Raconteurs Present: CENSORED, an evening of storytelling and performance around issues of censorship and free expression, part of Freedom to Read Week. Six storytellers shared their very different personal experiences. There were many laughs, but all underscoring a very serious message.

Above, Bruce Walsh tells “How I Got Here,” an adapted version of his TED Talk, “How the Holocaust Saved My Life.”

Below, Ken Setterington torpedoes any notion you might have of stuffy librarians with his story, “Yes, I Am a Librarian.”

Thanks to NOW Tube for posting all six stories in their entirety, here.

The Book and Periodical Council and Raconteurs Present: Censored – Ken Setterington from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) talked to the Book and Periodical Council, Toronto Public Library,  and me, about Freedom to Read Week 2013, and a Type Books window display that has been generating a lot of chatter.

VIDEO: Freedom to Read Week 2013

The 29th annual Freedom to Read Week kicks off February 24 and runs to March 2 with events across the country to celebrate our freedom to read and highlight censorship issues in Canada.


Four Toronto highlights:

  • Feb 25, 2pm, Toronto Reference Library: Forbidden Reading. Documentary screening and director Q&A. FREE
  • Feb 28, 7pm, The Garrison. CENSORED. Presented by the Book & Periodical Council and the Raconteurs. Six storytellers share personal tales of censorship. $10 at the door.
  • March 1, 5:30pm, Hart House Library. Celebrate Our Freedom to Read. With novelist Katherine Govier, University of Toronto Writer-in-Residence Joy Kogawa, Toronto’s Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke and writer and broadcaster Marian Botsford Fraser. FREE
  • March 1, 7pm. Toronto Reference Library. Beyond Book Burning: Disappearing Books in the Digital Age. Presented by PEN Canada. FREE
More info about all the above is available at