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A Case for Reading - Examining Challenged and Banned Books
|Grades||3 – 10|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Four 50-minute sessions|
Any work is potentially open to attack by someone, somewhere, sometime, for some reason. 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.
T-Chart Printout: This printable sheet allows students to keep notes on parts of books that they believe might be challenged, as well as supporting reasons.
Persuasive Writing Rubric: Use this rubric to evaluate the organization, conventions, goal, delivery, and mechanics of students' persuasive writing. The rubric can be adapted for any persuasive essay.
Persuasion Map: Use this online tool to map out and print your persuasive argument. Included are spaces to map out your thesis, three reasons, and supporting details.
There are times that the books that are part of our curriculum are found to be questionable or offensive by other groups. Should teachers stop using those texts? Should the books be banned from schools? No! "Censorship leaves students with an inadequate and distorted picture of the ideals, values, and problems of their culture. Partly because of censorship or the fear of censorship, many writers are ignored or inadequately represented in the public schools, and many are represented in anthologies not by their best work but by their ‘safest' or ‘least offensive' work," as stated in the NCTE Guideline.
What then should the English teacher do? "Freedom of inquiry is essential to education in a democracy. To establish conditions essential for freedom, teachers and administrators need to work together. The community that entrusts students to the care of an English teacher should also trust that teacher to exercise professional judgment in selecting or recommending books. The English teacher can be free to teach literature, and students can be free to read whatever they wish only if informed and vigilant groups, within the profession and without, unite in resisting unfair pressures." This is the Students' Right to Read.
National Council of Teachers of English. 1981. Guideline on The Students' Right to Read. November 2009. Web.