Banned Books Project


For your research project this semester, you will be dealing with challenged/banned books. In this unit, you will research a book that has been banned or challenged somewhere at sometime. The possibilities are vast, although some banned books will be off limits, those too sophisticated or too simplistic: the choice has to be age-appropriate. You also need to choose a book you have not read previously.
Each of you, then, will become an expert on a challenged book. You will want to address several questions: Why was the book challenged? By whom? What restrictions were the challengers seeking? What case was made against the book? How did others in the community/country/world react? What did the "experts" think about the challenge? Was the challenge successful? Class time and library help will be given to your research.

1. Once you know the story of the challenge and the book, you will write a proposal to your parents explaining the background of the book and asking their permission to read the book for this unit. Should your parents refuse to sign, you must either begin again -- under some serious time constraints -- or revise your proposal to make it acceptable to your parents. Your signed proposal is due March 4.

2. Having researched the case involving the book and gotten permission to read the work, you will need to secure a copy of the book immediately, either through the library, purchase, or a friend. You will have a week to read your book. During that week we will have no other English homework but we will be covering other material in class. Given the time constraints, I suggest you chose a book that is not overly lengthy for your reading pace. After you read the book, you will write a brief synopsis of the story, no more than one page, single spaced. The synopsis is due March 12.

3. After reading your book, you will write an analysis evaluating the case against the book and offering your "expert" opinion on the value of the book and its challenge. Were the arguments against the book valid or not and why? For this evaluation, assume that you will be posting your “expert” opinion on a blog or internet site, so your audience will be the general reading public or, perhaps, a student or parent looking for material on your book. This analysis needs to be thorough and well-supported, but it should not include a plot summary. You should find other, outside, documented sources to support your view of the book. The analysis will be due March 15.

In summary, then:
Part 1: present a history of the challenge, the issues involved, and write a "Proposal to Read" (40%)
Part 2: Read the text then write a brief synopsis (20%)
Part 3: Evaluate the book and its challenge, posting your response on the class blog (40%)

Documentation: Since this is a research unit and the material you will be gathering is neither personal nor common knowledge, you will need to document extensively. MLA format is the standard you must meet. In order to be prepared for such documentation, you will need to keep careful, accurate, thorough notes of any source you consult, on-line or off. Both the Proposal (Part 1) and the Evaluation (Part 3), then, will need in-text documentation and a "Works Cited" area at the end. Some class time will be devoted to all of this, but you should depend heavily on the MLA Handbook. Ignorance may be bliss, but it is no excuse. The librarians will prove an invaluable aid on this part.

Grade: A hard copy of all three sections will be turned in to the teacher as we reach them. (See above due dates) Grading on Part 1 and Part 3 will primarily focus on correct documentation, but content and style will also be part of the mix. On Part 2, the grade will be primarily based on a clear, thorough, well-written synopsis. Part 1 is worth forty points, Part 2 twenty points, and Part 3 forty points, for a total of one hundred points.