Banned books quest

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Introduction: This is a project that deals with censorship of literature. The definition of censorship is an "authorized suppression and removal of books, films, and other material because their contents are considered to be objectionable." The question is who gets to decide what is objectionable? Often books are banned because school districts and local libraries consider them to be unsuitable for young readers. Using the World Wide Web (WWW) as your primary research tool, your job is to familiarize yourself with this issue. In doing so, you will gain better understanding of the importance of literature in our society and evaluate for yourself the importance of freedom of expression. Also, by examining the kinds of books that are banned, you will judge for yourself whether these subject matters should be kept from you.

The Tasks

By completing this WebQuest, you should achieve the following goals:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the issue of censorship, specifically book banning in local schools and libraries as it pertains to your assigned banned-book.

  2. Understand book banning in historical, legal, and social perspective.

  3. Use Internet as a research tool.

  4. Polish presentation skills.


You will play three different roles in this quest. First, as the Historian, you will research the background of the banned book and what the book is about. You will also find out basic information about your author. You will then play the part of the Lawyer, and will research the legal status of censorship/book banning as it pertains to the book, and why it was banned and who banned it. Next, as the Sociologist, you will investigate the effects of the book’s banning, what the author thought of the banning (if possible) and decide whether the book should have been banned, in your opinion. Begin by exploring the library database links you’ll learn about in the presentations. You can also explore on your own by visiting various search engines: Yahoo, Infoseek, Lycos, Hotbot, Webcrawler, and etc.

Gathering Information-You must use at least 2 print and 2 internet sources!

(One of your print sources should be the book you’re researching.)

While you do your research, it may be helpful to keep the following questions in mind (these are just samples--try to come up with your own as well).

Which books are banned most frequently?

What subject matters are banned most frequently?

What are the legal considerations of the issue?

How does the issue affect your generation?

Do you think youth should be sheltered from certain subject materials?

Are there any scientific studies to show that exposure to such materials are detrimental to adolescent development?

As a teenager, what subject matter relevant to you is being banned?

Who are challenging or banning the books?

What role does religion play in this issue?

What are other types of censorship?

The Assignment

  1. After you've gathered all the information, you will write a typed response, in outline format, to the following questions:

  1. What is the book about?

  2. Who or what group challenged or banned the book?

  3. Why was the book banned? (Be specific.)

  4. What was the author’s response to the challenge or ban? (You will only find this if your author was alive at the time.)

  5. What was the outcome? (Did other groups protest the ban? Is the book still banned? From who or what city, etc.)

  6. In your opinion, was it right for the book to be challenged or banned? Why or why not?

This response will be turned into a working outline. What this means is we will not be writing the complete paper. I will give you the form for the outline after we have had time to do some of the research.

  1. You will turn in a work cited page in the proper MLA format. This page must be typed in 12 point font. PLEASE follow the rules of MLA citation or risk losing points!!!

  2. You will then present this information to the class. The presentation should be focused on your answers to the above questions. I will not set a strict format for the presentation--try to be creative. A power point of your own? A dramatization? Visual aids? The possibilities are endless. Make sure your presentation is well planned and practiced. The length of the presentation should be 3-5 minutes.


You will be evaluated on how well and thoroughly you conducted the research, as well as how you have synthesized the information. The presentation, written response, and works cited will be counted as at least one major grade. Your oral presentation and visual will count as another.

Some Resources

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