Teen Writing Contest: Dear Censor…

bookburningCanada celebrates Freedom to Read Week every February, as a way of reminding ourselves to think about intellectual freedom, censorship, and our right to access the information that we choose. We often take it for granted that we can read whatever we like, but the truth is that every year, great books are challenged or banned across the world — and that includes Canada.

This year, Freedom to Read Week is February 22nd to 28th, and as always, we're running a writing contest to help celebrate!  Write a letter to a censor and you could win a prize pack and have your entry published.


Picture this: you go to your local library to check out a book you’ve been dying to read, only to find that it isn’t on the shelf.  It may be an old favourite, or something new that everyone is talking about, but there’s an empty gap where it should be – because someone, for some reason, has challenged your right to read it.

If you could write a letter to that person, what would you say?

You can make up your own story, or use a challenge that actually happened. Be sure to tell us who you’re writing to; was it a parent concerned about the book’s content, a community member objecting on religious grounds, or a government trying to suppress anything that doesn’t match their worldview?

A few things to consider:

  • By far, most challenges come from parents, usually objecting because of a book’s sexual content, inappropriate language, or because it is “unsuited for age group”.
  • Books for children and teens are challenged far more often than adult material.
  • Schools, school libraries, and public libraries receive the vast majority of challenges.

How to enter:

  • This contest is open to Calgary students in grades 7 to 12. Please include your name, school, grade and contact information with your entry.
  • Your letter should be no more than 500 words, and can include visual content.
  • All content must be your own work, except for short, cited quotations.
  • Send your letter to freedomtoread@calgarypubliclibrary.com by the end of Sunday, Feb. 22nd, 2015.
  • One entry per person.

Winning entries will be published on the Calgary Public Library website and in the 2016 Freedom to Read Week Kit (distributed nationally by the Book and Periodical Council).

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Calgary Public Library