Within the past week, numerous media outlets have reported challenges to author Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass both here in the United States and in Canada. OIF has received reports of other challenges to The Golden Compass as well.
Today, ALA President Loriene Roy responded to attempts to remove The Golden Compass from libraries and schools:
“This week, the movie, The Golden Compass, based on the first book in Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy entitled His Dark Materials, will debut in theatres across the United States. The movie has triggered a boycott campaign sponsored by conservative religious organizations that believe the movie and the books are an attack on Christianity and the Catholic Church. The groups are urging parents not to see the movie or purchase the books.
“The call to boycott the filmed version of The Golden Compass has inspired a parallel effort to remove the novel and its companion volumes from libraries and schools. Much like efforts to ban the Harry Potter books, fear and misinformation are driving the effort to deprive students and library users access to Pullman’s critically praised books, which are recommended by both religious and secular critics.
“It is one thing to disagree with the content of a book or the viewpoint of an author; it is quite another thing to block access to that material because of that disagreement. Removing a book from a school or library because the author is an atheist, or because a religious group disagrees with the book’s viewpoint, is censorship that runs counter to our most cherished freedoms and our history as a nation that celebrates and protects religious diversity.
“We encourage librarians, teachers and parents to resist the call to censorship. Censorship results in the opposite of true education and learning. Young people will only develop the skills they need to analyze information and make choices among a wide variety of competing sources if they are permitted to read books and explore ideas under the guidance of caring adults.
“We realize, of course, that not every book is for everyone. Parents know their children best and should guide their children’s reading. If parents think a particular book is not suitable for their child, they should guide their child to other books. But they should not impose their beliefs on other people’s children.
“By resisting the call to censor and boycott The Golden Compass, we send the message to young people that in this country they have the right to choose what they will read and that they will be expected to develop the ability to think critically about what they read, rather than allowing others to do their thinking for them.”