Monday, March 29, 2010

TDSB faces another challenge

I am far, far too angry to comment about this: A news story surfaced this weekend about The Shepherd’s Granddaughter, by Anne Laurel Carter, being challenged in the Toronto area after appearing on the OLA's Forest of Reading list. Apparently, the book “has clear potential to incite hatred and violence against Jewish and Israeli students,” says the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, as quoted in the Star. There are calls for the book to be removed from Ontario classrooms.

This is the book that won (see press release) the 2009 CLA Book of the Year for Children Award, a prize that I judge.

If I start writing, I will rant, and I have had a long day at work already (P.S. It was my first day back at Rideau Branch! I unpacked my 8 boxes, visited a local French school to present at a staff meeting, covered the evening desk shift, and caught up with a few staff members. More formal meetings tomorrow...). I will simply remind you that I had the pleasure of being present when Anne won our award, and I was deeply moved by her speech. I will refer you to my post about it. To engage with this type of book challenge would be to give it more weight, but I am tempted to remind the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, or B'nai B'rith, that Anne went kibbutzing twice, and that her views about the Mideast conflict were changed by talking to actual Palestinian families, and by working with the Institute for Community and Organizational Development, Rabbis for Human Rights, and the Tamar Institute. We would all do well to spend more time learning about others, rather than fearing them and inciting hatred. But then, I thought that was obvious, and I'm consistently surprised.

The lovely Patsy Aldana of Groundwood says it best, in a press release reprinted on Quillblog:
"In fact there are a number of very sympathetic Jewish and Israeli characters in the book, but they represent a point of view more commonly found in Israel than at B’nai B’rith — concern for Palestinians whose houses and villages are torn down to make way for the settlements that are considered illegal by most countries in the world. No less a figure than James Loney, who was held hostage in Iraq by extremists and who works for Christian Peacemaker Teams, has praised the book for its balance. The librarians of Ontario who selected this book for the Forest of Reading program and the librarians of the Canadian Library Association (not the same people) who gave it the award for the best children’s book of the year can hardly be characterized as people who are enemies of Israel."

Ya, I know, I was all "I'm not talking about it," but I'm totally talking about it.

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