Banned Books Essay Prompts

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Banning books is a controversial practice. This lesson provides writing prompts to help students explore and think about the implications and consequences of banning books.

Writing about Banned Books

Have any of your students ever read:

  • The Holy Bible?
  • Captain Underpants?
  • The Hunger Games?
  • Twilight?
  • To Kill A Mockingbird?

If so, then they've read a banned or challenged book. Every year, people and organizations seek to ban hundreds of books from inclusion in libraries and schools. Banning books is such a controversial practice that schools, libraries, and bookstores often celebrate Banned Books Week to encourage people to read them.

One way to get your students interested in learning about banned books and related controversies is to have them write about the topic. In this lesson, you'll find informative, persuasive, and narrative writing prompts that'll provide your students with a starting point for a deeper understanding of this complex topic.

Prompts For Informative Writing

  • Choose a book that has been or is currently banned. Write a factual newspaper article about who requested that the book be banned, the reasons why it was banned, and the current status of the book.
  • Review the American Library Association's banned book lists for the past five years. Describe the most frequent reasons people sought to ban a book. What is the most common reason? Is there a certain genre of book that appears more often on the lists?
  • Research historical examples of societies banning books, including the results. Describe in detail any impact of book banning on the social, religious, economic, or political climate of the societies.
  • Compare and contrast two books: one that has been or is currently banned and one that has not been banned. Describe what characteristics most likely contributed to one book being banned while the other book was not.

Prompts For Persuasive Writing

  • Write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper in support of or in opposition to banning books. Provide facts and examples to support your position.
  • Create a radio advertisement for a book that has been or is currently banned. Describe the book and why people should read it.
  • Write a proposal suggesting activities for Banned Books Week at your school. Describe each activity and provide reasons for why they should be included in the celebration.
  • Describe the circumstances in which you would support banning a book. Support your position with facts, examples, and statistics, along with any exceptions to the criteria that you would consider.

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