Teaching the Controversy:Using Challenged and Banned Books in the High School English Curriculum

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0009-0008-4005-5467
Greenblatt, Caroline, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Pasanek, Brad

This thesis discusses precisely why and how we should be using banned books to teach our students in high school level English. The controversy itself is inherently valuable to teaching students to be mindful, civic participants in a democratic society. Examining and understanding why books are challenged and then using them as teaching tools can help prepare students for engaged thought and discussion.to engage with the idea of banned books as useful teaching tools. By going over the historical reasons for challenges and bans, exploring what specifically is deemed controversial, and then taking that controversy and teaching it head-on, teachers can instill bravery of thought, not fear, into their students. Teachers face a crisis in America about teaching banned content - is teaching controversial material worth possibly losing their job, or other repercussions? - which is not a new issue in this country. With 2022 being the year with the most books challenged yet as noted by the ALA, it is crucial that educators understand why challenges and bans are happening, and in turn, how to use that information to better inform and educate our students. This thesis examines the reasoning behind book bans and challenges, the legal arguments for and against book banning, and how educators can use this information to better their pedagogical practices.

MA (Master of Arts)
education, high school English, teachers, book banning, book challenges, freedom , curriculum , controversy
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