Canadian Literary Censorship Project

A book in the shape of a lock with a Canadian maple leaf. The book-lock symbolizes censorship.The Canadian Literary Censorship Project (CLCP) attempts to document and map what literary censorship looks like in Southern Ontario. Our pilot connected with Ontario schools, libraries, and publishers. The CLCP aims to portray how censorship affects public access to reading materials across the province, as well as raise awareness about the nature of censorship in Canada. We’re looking to expand to the rest of Canada in the future.

What is a book challenge and what is literary censorship?

According to the American Library Association, a book challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. Literary censorship refers to the suppression or attempted suppression of literary materials that would otherwise be free to access. Book challenges and bans fall under the umbrella of literary censorship.

What can literary censorship look like?

Censorship often manifests in small acts—a parent filing a complaint about a certain book available at their child’s school library, for instance. But these small acts often lead to much larger consequences, such as the suppression or silencing of equity-seeking writers and artists. Through education about Canada’s current level of censorship, we can work toward re-evaluating our roles as censors, and learn more about what we as a public are willing to give access to.

Key Findings (2018-2023)

While extensive research is still needed to determine the full extent of censorship in Canada, our data reveals many trends in the Southern Ontario region:


Dr. Seuss. Many have filed challenges against Dr. Seuss books, specifically And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo.


To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. This title was challenged and banned in schools and libraries due to racist language or tropes.


Of all recorded reasons for literary challenging, our survey returned with the highest number of challenges or bans for titles with racist or harmful language.


Based on our own survey, as well as data from the Centre for Free Expression and Canadian Federation of Library Associations, 30% of challenged books are retained and 19% are removed. That leaves 36% of challenge results unknown and 15% designated as other–e.g. events and readings.

Downloadable Infographic

This infographic highlights the reasons why certain titles may incite challenges or bans. These reasons could be the subject matter, political contexts, controversial illustrations, or the author’s public persona.


Printable Poster

Click here for a free download of our other CLCP poster. Print it out or share it digitally with your community.


Research Scope

The scope of our project was public libraries, schools, and publishers operating across 17 cities within 14 municipalities of Southern Ontario. Our data was collected mainly through survey response, but was later compiled with data collected by the Centre for Free Expression and the Canadian Federation of Library Associations. While more research is necessary to determine the full extent of literary censorship in Canada, our project aims to provide a foundation for further research in this area.


Statistical Dashboard

This dashboard presents a comprehensive visualization of data related to literary censorship incidents across southern Ontario, including distribution across multiple dimensions such as time, geographic location, institution, etc. The interactive functionality automatically adjusts the data display based on your selections, allowing for a more tailored and insightful view of the information showcased.



Through these blog posts, we hope to shed light on the ways in which censorship affects Canadian readers and writers, as well as explore the implications of censorship on freedom of expression and diversity in the literary community.
Informal Censorship in School Libraries

School libraries in Canada have long been viewed as a valuable resource for students, providing access to a wide range of materials that can enhance their learning and support their personal interests. However, …

CLCP Post-mortem / Reflection

Looking back, I believe we did a good job with the resources and data we had at our disposal. Our data was based on surveys and CFLA/CFE sources, and we managed to compile 139 entries. While this number is not sufficient for a comprehensive analysis, …

From Interviews to Illustrations: Uncovering Censorship with CLCP

I had the privilege of participating in the Canadian Literary Censorship Project as an illustrator and researcher. My responsibilities included contacting connections within the public library system in Southern Ontario, documenting their experiences with censorship, and later on, creating illustrations for the data we collected to disseminate this information…


Dr. Alexander Hollenberg

Principal Investigator

He is a professor of storytelling and narrativity at Sheridan College, where he teaches courses on banned books, narrative theory, and literary criticism. Some of his recent writing can be found in such journals as UTQ, English Studies in Canada, Riddle Fence, and Grain.

Dr. Brandon McFarlane


Dr. Brandon McFarlane is a Professor of Creativity and Leadership in the Pilon School of Business at Sheridan College. He’s the knowledge mobilization lead for the project.

Dr. Owen Percy


Dr. Owen Percy is a specialist in literary studies and culture in Canada, and a proud member of The Canadian Literary Censorship Project research team. He is the Program Coordinator for Sheridan College’s Honours Bachelor of Creative Writing & Publishing and his teaching focuses on publishing, cultural capital, and institutionality.

Jenna James

Research Assistant

Jenna James is a second year Creative Writing & Publishing student at Sheridan College. Originally from CBS Newfoundland, Jenna is excited for the opportunity to better understand censorship’s national impact on the Canadian literary identity. Hoping to pursue screenwriting and managing editing, Jenna aims to contribute to a diverse and inclusive publishing industry in Canada however she can and is grateful to be a part of CLCP!

Ashley Tai

Research Assistant

Ashley Tai is a research assistant and illustrator on The Canadian Literary Censorship Project. Her work on the CLCP project has given her new insight into the freedoms many Canadians take for granted in this country. She is currently a third year Illustration student at Sheridan College with a love for creating decorative work relating to both people and flowers. Check out more of Ashley’s work.

Kate Judge

Research Assistant 

Kate Judge is enrolled in the Creative Writing & Publishing Program at Sheridan College.

Vivienne Wang

Research Assistant

Meet Vivienne, a versatile designer with expertise in web design, illustration, graphic design, and data visualization. Currently, she is pursuing her passion for UI/UX design, hoping to combine her artistic skills with programming knowledge to create stunning user experiences. With detail-oriented approach and a commitment to excellence, Vivienne is excited to share her designs with you and help bring your vision to life.