Theme Guide: Challenged Books

We’ve made a list of Canadian books we love that have been banned or challenged. This is perfect for Freedom to Read Week.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldaccino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant (Groundwood Books, 2014) Ages 4-7

Morris is a little boy who loves using his imagination. He dreams about having space adventures, paints beautiful pictures and sings the loudest during circle time. But most of all, Morris loves his classroom’s dress-up centre — he loves wearing the tangerine dress. But the children in Morris’s class don’t understand. Dresses, they say, are for girls. Morris will have to prove to them that dresses can be for everyone.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books, 2014) Ages 13 and up

Rose and Windy are summer friends whose families have visited Awago Beach for as long as they can remember. But this year is different, and they soon find themselves tangled in teen love and family crisis. From the creators of Skim comes an investigation into the mysterious world of adults.



When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014) Ages 13 and up

School is just like a film set: there’s The Crew, who make things happen, The Extras who fill the empty desks, and The Movie Stars, whom everyone wants tagged in their Facebook photos. But Jude doesn’t fit in. He’s not part of The Crew because he isn’t about to do anything unless it’s court-appointed; he’s not an Extra because nothing about him is anonymous; and he’s not a Movie Star because even though everyone know his name like an A-lister, he isn’t invited to the cool parties. As the director calls action, Jude is the flamer that lights the set on fire.



Who is Frances Rain? by Margaret Buffie (Kids Can Press, 1987) Ages 12-14

It’s going to be a long, hot summer for 15-year-old Lizzie. Normally a vacation at her grandmother’s northern Manitoba cottage is the highlight of the year, but this summer the whole family is going along, including her new stepfather whom she detests. To escape the family’s bickering, Lizzie explores a nearby island, where she finds the remains of an old cabin and uncovers a pair of spectacles. When she tries on the old glasses she is surprised to find herself watching a woman and girl from the past.



Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)  Ages 9-13

Robin Stevenson’s PRIDE is an absolute MUST. Stevenson takes extreme care to explain to youth the story and importance of PRIDE. This book also transfers well for teens and adults who are also looking to learn or for help in teaching others.


Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth (Seven Stories Press, 2015) Ages 7-11

Re-imagining the “sex talk” for the 21st century, this inclusive comic book for children and families of all makeups, orientations and gender identities offers a funny and engaging tool for talking about bodies, gender and sexuality. Topics include safety, privacy, sexual anatomy, sex and gender, crushes, using “sexy” words and more.



Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood Books, 2004) Ages 10-12

In a rehabilitation centre for disabled children, 12-year-old Nora says she loves the colour pink and chewing gum and explains that the wheels of her wheelchair are like her legs. Eleven-year-old Mohammad describes how his house was demolished by soldiers. And we meet 12-year-old Salam, whose older sister walked into a store in Jerusalem and blew herself up, killing herself and two people, and injuring 20others. All these children live both ordinary and extraordinary lives. They argue with their siblings. They dream about their wishes for the future. They have also seen their homes destroyed, their families killed, and they live in the midst of constant upheaval and violence. This simple and telling book allows children everywhere to see those caught in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as children just like themselves, but who are living far more difficult, dangerous lives.