Challenged Books Assignment Developed by the English Department at Western High School, Anaheim Union High School in collaboration with the Teacher Librarian, Heather Gruenthal

Lesson Plan:

Challenged Books Assignment
As students in English II begin the unit on Fahrenheit 451, they will be exploring the concept of censorship and book banning. To further extend their understanding of the concept, students will also be selecting a book from a list of frequently challenged books to read, and then write a ficticious persuasive business letter to the Anaheim Union High School District school board members explaining reasons to retain or ban the book. Students will need to support their argument with quotations selected from their reading of the books as well as researching the history of challenges filed against the book of their choice (see full assignment below).

AUHSD Challenge of Instructional Materials Policy
The AUHSD’s principles of intellectual freedom are as follows:
  • Students have the right to freedom of inquiry and access to information; responsibility for abridgement of that right is solely between an individual and the parent(s) of that student.
  • In reviewing material which has been challenged, the major consideration is the appropriateness of the material for its intended educational use.
  • Material which has been challenged shall remain available for use during the challenge review and reconsideration process.
If a parent or staff member wishes to challenge instructional materials, the following procedures must be followed:

  1. The school or district person receiving a complaint regarding instructional material shall try to resolve the issue informally by explaining the school’s selection procedure, criteria, and qualifications of those persons selecting the material, and the material’s intended educational use.
  2. If the complaint cannot be resolved informally, the objection must be filed in writing using the “Request to Challenge Instructional Material” form (see document below).
  3. Challenges must be submitted to the Assistant Superintendent of Education, and a committee will be convened to review the material within 20 days.
  4. The committee’s findings are reported to the Board of Trustees, who makes the decision as to the final disposition of the challenged material.
  5. The Superintendent will notify the complainant of the Board’s decision no later than 60 working days after the complaint was filed.
(Board Policy 7901.02R)

The following resources may be helpful in your assignment:
Banned Books Resource Guide from ALA
The American Library Association's Frequently Challenged Books
Ebsco Host
Search for news or magazine articles on censorship of your chosen book or author. Magazines such as American Libraries regularly publish columns like "Censorship Watch" that record book challenges and bannings around the country.
The Library Teacher is available to present a booktalk on Powerpoint (see below) to give students ideas for books to select.
Also visit the display in the library of books available for this assignment along with a reference copy of the Banned Books Resource Guide, 2004. American Library Association, Chicago Illinois. 2004

Shelf Talker
Created by Joy Millam, Valencia High School