A Reader’s Freedom

At age five she met a doctor, Seuss her parents called him.

He spoke of cats in hats, one fish two fish, green eggs with ham, and the places she could go.

The Doctor prescribed her to find the wild things, not be afraid of where the sidewalk could end, and never to eat a bear’s porridge.

It was there in her bedroom, surrounded by books, that she realized ‘I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living a reader I’ll be.”

At age 11 she met a boy with a lightning shaped scar.

She didn’t know it then, but the boy would take her on a magical adventure that she would carry with her for the rest of her life.

His series of adventures taught her the courage of a lion, the ambition of a snake, the intelligence of an eagle, and the tolerance of a badger.

But above all things, she learned that whether she visited by page or screen, “Hogwarts would always be there to welcome her home.”

At age 15 she met a man.

An Alabama lawyer who showed that the colour of one’s skin shouldn’t matter.

This family man, who taught his children that they deserved honest answers from the adults around them, brought her to court to teach her a lesson she’d never forget.

She sat on the balcony, with Jem and Scout, and saw evil could transcend the pages that once made her feel safe.

She lost her innocence that day, but never forgot that “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

At 18 she took her hobby to university and began to turn it into a degree.

She studied historical backgrounds, thematic traditions, and analytical models.

The literary theory began to overtake everything she thought she once knew about reading.

At 23 she took a class that changed her outlook on literature.

“These books have all been banned sometime during their publication history,” her professor lectured.

The doctor came up, and the boy came up, and the man came up, and she couldn’t understand how the characters who shaped her life could be censored for others.

Green Eggs and Ham by Doctor Seuss was banned in 1965 because he didn’t conform to Maoist China.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling was banned in 2007 because of a reverend in Wakefield, Massachusetts, thought the books were not upholding Catholic views.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was banned in 2016 because of a parent in Accomack County, Virginia, complained about the use of racist language.

The banning of books baffled her because she was always taught everyone should have the freedom to read.

At 25, I can say I’ve lived a 1,000 lives while those around me have barely lived one.

I’ve hunted the white whale aboard the Pequod, even though Moby Dick was banned in a Texas school district in 1996 because it conflicted with community values.

And I’ve thrown the one ring into the fires of Mount Doom, even though The Lord of the Rings was banned in New Mexico in 2001 because it promoted witchcraft.

I’ve fallen through the looking glass, and found myself on the other side, even though Alice in Wonderland was banned in the Chinese province of Hunan in 1931 because the animals could speak.

And I’ve flown B-52 bombers with Yossarian and Clevinger, even though Catch-22 was banned in Strongsville, Ohio in 1972 because of indecent language.

The annual Canadian Freedom to Read week is from Feb. 26 to March 4, 2017.

The event is encouraging Canadians to stand up against censorship in Canada so that everyone has the freedom to pick up whatever book they so choose.

It happens, even in Canada, where the people are ‘glorious and free.’

So from the little girl, who started out reading about cats in hats, one fish two fish, green eggs with ham, and the places she could go, pick up a book or magazine that has been challenged in Canada.

Let everyone know that you will not stand by while the freedom to read is being tested.

And who knows?

You may find, that in yourself, a reader has been waiting for you too.

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