Outside Our Borders, but Pertinent

Posted: December 20, 2007 in Intellectual Freedom

From the Toronto Star:

Board widens ban on fantasy novels
TheStar.com – GTA – Board widens ban on fantasy novels

Halton Catholic rejects committee’s advice

December 20, 2007
Daniel Girard
Kristin Rushowy
Education Reporters

The Halton Catholic school board has rejected the recommendation of its book committee and banned the children’s fantasy novel The Golden Compass, as well as the subsequent books in the trilogy, which were not officially under review.

The board said the novels in author Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy are not in keeping with “the Catholic values that we are trying to teach children.”

A majority of trustees felt the series was “not in line with our governing values … so they chose to take it out of the library,” board chair Alice Anne LeMay said in an interview. LeMay said she favoured the proposal to limit access to the books to those in Grades 7 and up.

The decision, made in a vote Tuesday, follows a move by the board last month to pull The Golden Compass from library shelves after a complaint. The board’s elementary principals were also directed not to distribute a Scholastic flyer that had the book available to order.

The book review committee recommended The Golden Compass, now a major film, be returned to shelves and made available to students in Grade 7 and up.

The Golden Compass tells the story of a young girl’s travels to the edge of another universe, where she’s involved in a battle between good and evil. Written by Pullman, a self-described atheist, it’s seen by critics as anti-religion.

“I’m pretty comfortable in our faith to know that a book won’t force them to waver in it,” said Angie Pettyjohn, a member of the school council at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in Oakville who has kids in Grades 5 and 8.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic school board, which has The Golden Compass in some libraries but is not teaching it in classes, has received at least one complaint, said community relations manager Bruce Campbell.

York Catholic schools have it on library shelves for a recommended audience of Grade 7 to 10, and had had no complaints, said a spokesperson.

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