A Case for Reading - Examining Challenged and Banned Books

This lesson introduces students to censorship and how challenges to books occur. They are then invited to read challenged or banned books from the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books. Students decide for themselves what should be done with these books at their school by writing a persuasive essay explaining their perspectives. Students share their pieces with the rest of the class, and as an extension activity, can share their essays with teachers, librarians, and others in their school. (from site) In this lesson students are exposed to the issues of censorship, challenged, or banned books. (Note: Handout is provided that lists the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 2000-2009.) Students then critically evaluate books based on relevancy, biases, and errors, so that they may be able to develop and support a position on a particular book by writing a persuasive essay about their chosen title.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3001.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different audiences and purposes.
CLE 3002.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different audiences and purposes.
CLE 3003.3.1
Write in a variety of modes, with particular emphasis on persuasion, for different purposes and audiences.
CLE 3005.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different purposes and audiences.
 
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Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • be exposed to the issues of censorship, challenged, or banned books. 
  • examine issues of censorship as it relates to a specific literature title. 
  • critically evaluate books based on relevancy, biases, and errors. 
  • develop and support a position on a particular book by writing a persuasive essay about their chosen title.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Applying
Extension suggestions: 
  • If the students read their selected books in Literature Circles, the group members can take on the following roles:
    • Concerned Parent: The concerned parent is interested in how controversial materials affect school children. The concerned parent wants to maintain a healthy learning environment for students. 
    • Classroom Teacher: The Classroom Teacher needs to select books that will both match the interests of the students and also meet the requirements of the curriculum. The Classroom Teacher needs to listen to the parents, and also follow the rules of the school. 
    • School Library Media Specialist: The School Library Media Specialist selects library materials based on the curriculum and reading interests the students in the school. 
    • School Lawyer: The School Lawyer is concerned about how the students’ civil liberties would be affected if the School Board decided to ban books.
  • Students can elicit responses and reactions from peers, teachers, administrators, librarians, the author, and parents in regards to the particular book they are researching. Ask students to focus on the appropriateness of the book in reference to an elementary school collection. 
  • Discuss Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico and how after the decision from that court case public school districts around the country developed policies concerning book challenges in elementary, middle, and high school libraries.
  • Students can play the role of the librarian and decide where a challenged/banned book should be shelved. For example, the challenged book may be a picture book, but the “librarian” might decide that the book should instead be shelved in the Teacher Resource Section of the library. An alternative for Sessions Three and Four for this lesson plan is to ask students to write persuasive essays explaining where the book should be shelved and why it should be shelved there.

Helpful Hints

Materials:

  • Selected books as examples (from the most frequently challenge books list)

Printouts:

  • Example Family Letter
  • T-Chart
  • Persuasion Map
  • Book Challege Investigation Bookmarks
  • Persuasive Writing Rubric

References

Contributors: