Monday, August 24, 2009

Mockingbird, and teaching Canlit, defended

(image courtesy wikipedia)

Award-winning Ontario novelist Lawrence Hill has written an opinion piece in the Toronto Star defending Harper Lee's classic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Entitled Don't ban the book - read a lot more like it, Lawrence's short essay is a welcome addition to the ongoing freedom of expression discussion in Canada (thanks to the Book and Periodical Council's Franklin Carter for the tip on this article).

Hill not only defends Lee's book from those who would remove it from Ontario's libraries and classrooms, he makes a call for more homegrown literature in classrooms -- a sadly Canadian twist on the idea of free expression. After all, a book has to be added to a reading list before it can be removed from a reading list.

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Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer said...

It is a pity that Larry didn't give a short list of books he would recommend that would fit his criteria.

Amy Lavender Harris said...

[Comment pasted from Facebook, where Kathryn posted the link to this blog post]

I sent a list of Toronto-centric stories dealing with race & racism and culture & identity to the school board that removed Mockingbird from its curriculum, and received a pleasantly worded FOD letter in reply.

The full list is available here: Toronto Literature by Subject -- it includes books dealing with Aboriginal, Asian, Black, Jewish, Portuguese and South Asian experience. I put the list together at the request of my undergraduate students, who ache to read books representing their own cultures.

Incidentally, Lawrence Hills' own books -- Any Known Blood, The Book of Negroes and Black Berry Sweet Juice (a memoir of growing up mixed race in Don Mills) -- would make exemplary additions to any high school literature curriculum. ... Read more

I'm not optimistic that school boards will introduce these books into their classrooms, though. I'm not convinced they would consider it worth the effort without having Coles Notes or Wikipedia as guides.