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Should controversial books be censored?

Every year, libraries, schools, authors, and readers celebrate Banned Books Week, which casts light on the issues of censorship and banning books. Classic novels, like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (one of the most consistently challenged books) join with comics, young adult novels, and children’s books on the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books.


New Edition Of 'Huckleberry Finn' Will Eliminate Offensive Words

New London-Spicer parents want book banned

It May Be 'Perfectly Normal,' But It's Also Frequently Banned

Additional resources to think about

We Tried — And Failed — To Identify The Most Banned Book In America
A journalist who writes stories based on statistical data tried to find the most banned book in America. Instead he found some inconsistencies.

Why are parents banning school books?
An article from BBC News looks at why American parents try to ban books from their children's schools.

Banned Books Remind Us Of The Power Of The Written Word
Scott Simon, host of NPR's Weekend Edition tells his audience to re-read banned books because they show how great books can engage and inspire.


Who created this message?

  • What kind of “text” is it?
  • How similar or different is it to others of the same genre?
  • What are the various elements (building blocks) that make up the whole?


What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • What do you notice (about the way the message is constructed)?
  • What’s the emotional appeal?
  • What makes it seem “real?”
  • Are there any symbols? Persuasive devices used?

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

  • How many other interpretations could there be?
  • How could we hear about them?
  • How can you explain the different responses?

What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • What type of person is the reader/watcher/listener invited to identify with?
  • What ideas or perspectives are left out?
  • How would you find what’s missing?
  • What judgments or statements are made about how we treat other people?


Why is this message being sent?

  • What's being sold in this message? What's being told? 
  • Who is served by or  benefits from the message
    – the public?
    – private interests?
    – individuals?
    – institutions?

5 Key Questions of Media Literacy used with permission from the Center for Media Literacy.
Copyright 2002-2021, Center for Media Literacy,


Should controversial books be censored?

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