Banned Books 

Teacher: Katie Schofield
Extra Help: Tuesdays from 3-4 or by appointment.

Banned Books Course Overview

“People ban books because they can’t ban thoughts.” -Unknown

One person has the power to ban a book enjoyed by millions of people.  A library patron, parent, or school board can take away your “freedom to read.” Hundreds of books have been called offensive or questionable by individuals and communities, decried as containing “inappropriate content” or “questionable language,” and subsequently banned from schools or libraries.  And those are exactly the books we’re going to read.

Why do banned books matter? Writers, teachers, or libraries may choose to play it safe, and not include themes or language with potentially controversial qualities.   Banned books include literary classics, such as To Kill a Mockingbird or Of Mice and Men, and not-so classics, like Captain Underpants.  Would these authors have restricted their storytelling knowing that it may have prevented their works from being read? What are the other consequences?  Prepare to question why books are banned, who decides what we have the right to read, and if our reading freedom can be taken away.  Through the lens of banned books, we will explore the power of literature, the fear it can provoke, the value and restriction of freedom, and what it means for books and the characters inside those books to be free. 

Essential Questions:

Why are books challenged or banned?

What does it mean to be free? What is freedom?

Who is truly free? Who deserves freedom?

Who has power?

How is literature powerful? 

Works we may read include:

Selected Children’s Literature

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Native Son or Black Boy by Richard Wright OR Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck OR Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston… TBD

Choice of your own banned book

Coursework will include:

Nightly reading or writing assignments

In-class writing responses, reflections, and small projects

To Kill a Mockingbird mapping project (using evidence from the text creating a creative map of Maycomb county and reflection)

To Kill a Mockingbird Totem Pole project and essay (analyzing characters and the idea of freedom and power to create a Totem Pole- use your creativity- and to write an essay analyzing these dynamics in the text)

Book #2 TBD School Board debate

Book #2 TBD formal persuasive paper

Final Assessment: Independent project to select your own banned book to study, explore, and present



Assessments will be graded based on the 4 English strands:

Composition (30%): Citing evidence, creating a thesis or argument, expressing ideas persuasively, using proper conventions, spelling and vocabulary, adapting writing for different contexts, reflecting, summarizing and connecting in writing

Analysis (35%): Determining theme, analyzing theme’s development, analyzing character development, analyzing words and vocabulary in the text, reflecting on essential questions using the text, using evidence to form an opinion/argument

Oral Expression (10%): Participating frequently and orally in class discussions and small group discussions, effectively presenting major assessments, posing and responding to others in conversation and debate

Work Habits (25%): Completing all assignments on time, from homework to final assessments, effort and diligence in writing and reading in class and at home, using time effectively, increasing writing stamina and writing over extended time frames, overcoming challenges



While this course challenges all students to think critically about the essential questions and read rigorous texts, the honors option allows students to go even deeper.  Honors students will have extension requirements on in class or at home projects.  On the final project, students will choose a high level final text to read, from a list provided by Ms. Schofield and must present a related project at exhibition night. Honors students must maintain a grade of 80% or higher in all strand areas as well as act as a consistent classroom leader to qualify.  If work is completed successfully you will get honors credit.


POLICIES (see student handbook for extended explanations):

Class Expectations

In order for this course to be a meaningful experience for all of us, please:

·                 Come on time and prepared.  Always bring your writing materials/book.

·                 Listen to others in class with engagement and respect.  Be kind.

·                 Don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts or writing!

·                 Ask for help when you need it.

·                 Complete assignments on time and with effort.

·                 Do NOT bring phones or electronics of any sort into class (except by special arrangement).  If I see one, I will take it.

Risk taking and respect

You will be sharing your ideas and writing in this class.  That means that everybody needs to feel safe and respected.  It is important that we give both others and ourselves permission to take risks, and that we be enthusiastically, critically, supportively engaged in one another's process. 

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is claiming someone else’s words or ideas as your own. That means:

         -          copying/ pasting something from the internet, another source, or another student without quote marks and citation

·                 paraphrasing something from any source without citation

·                 submitting work that has already been submitted in another class

When in doubt, CITE!  If it’s in the gray area, it IS plagiarism.   For more information on the Academic Honesty policy, please refer to the student handbook.  Please know that I will take cases of plagiarism to Mr. Orpen with the first offense.

Late Work Policy

In order for an assignment to be eligible for revision, it must be turned in on time.  If you need an extension, you must communicate with Ms. Schofield at least 24 hours in advance of the class when the assignment is due. 

You may receive one emergency late pass on one assignment.  When Ms. Schofield collects the work, let her know that you are using your one emergency late pass- no excuses necessary.  You have two days to hand in the assignment without a penalty.

Late assignments must be submitted within 7 days of the original due date.  Assignments submitted before the 7 day window will receive a lower grade in the work habits strand, but will be fully graded in the other strands.  If an assignment is more than 7 days late it will receive a zero in all strands.  If you are failing the course due to missing work, you may complete honors work for extra credit but I will not create additional work.

Extra Help

Please come see me for extra help! I am available on Tuesday afternoons from 3-4 pm or by appointment.  Contact me at


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