Fahrenheit 451 Essay

 Defending a Book Banned in the United States

1) Selecting a work

Find a book which an American school board or public library has banned or censored.  You may use the attached list of suggested works, or research through the library.  Consult the web page from beginning sources, in addition to what Mrs. Pentlicky may tell you when we visit the library.

2) Confirm your choice with Mr. Kendall

A) We won't duplicate any works, so whoever first asks to write about the book has "dibs."  I'll post a list in room 114 and on the web by initials, so you can keep track of them.

B) The book cannot be a work for younger readers or a graphic arts / comic book, although it may be a collection of short stories, essays, or poetry, or a work of non-fiction, as well as a novel. 

C) We may not use significant works on the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade curriculum, so Mr. Kendall may veto an otherwise good choice for this reason (e.g. Orwell's 1984 or Twain's Huckleberry Finn).

D) If Mr. Kendall does not recognize a book, please bring some research with you to show how the work is of the appropriate age level and was censored for important reasons.

3) Research the specific work

A) Find at least one specific account of where the book was banned or censored, and what the reasons were.  This should be at least a paragraph's worth of information, but not more than two or three paragraphs.  Record complete information on our source (the exact web address, the newspaper or magazine's exact date and pages, etc.)

B) If you have not read the book already, research the work and provide evidence which proves what the book should not be banned.  If you have read the work, be sure to cite specific examples and page numbers from the book itself.

4) Write your defense

Those of you who have read Lawrence and Lee's Inherit the Wind may find it a useful model.  Your essay needs to first provide background on why someone censored the book, and then devote about two-thirds of the essay to defending it.  Henry Drummond's defending a biology teacher's wanting to teach Darwin may inspire you.

Your essay should be five or six paragraphs, two to two and a half typed pages, with all of your sources for your information included.

5) Examine the lists of suggested titles below, but you may also suggest your own, too.

From "Censorship Challenge News",

National Council of Teachers of English

and their Anti-Censorship Web sitehttp://www.ncte.org/about/issues/censorship)

Bean Trees, The Barbara Kingsolver

Blackboy, Richard Wright

Bluest Eye, The, Toni Morrison

Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger

Christmas Carol, A, Charles Dickens

Color Purple, The, Alice Walker

House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende

How the Garcia Girls Got Their Accents, Julia Alvarez

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison (note: this is NOT the H. G. Wells science fiction novel about a guy you can't see . . .)

Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold

Native Son, Richard Wright

Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

Plainsong, Kent Haruf

Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy

Secret Life of Bees, The, Sue Monk Kidd

Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse,

Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison

Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee



From "The Online Books Page "

(gives specific examples of where the book was challenged or banned)


Ulysses by James Joyce

Aristophanes' Lysistrata,

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Jack London's Call of the Wild

Thoreau's Civil Disobedience

Shakespeare's Hamlet,

Shakespeare's Macbeth

Shakespeare's King Lear

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Darwin's Origin of Species

Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer

Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind




Selections from "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000" from the American Library Association


3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling

8. Forever by Judy Blume

9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

14. The Giver by Lois Lowry

17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine LÕEngle

29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry

31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

32. Blubber by Judy Blume

35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier

37. The HandmaidÕs Tale by Margaret Atwood

38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

42. Beloved by Toni Morrison

43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel

46. Deenie by Judy Blume

47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest

62. Are You There, God? ItÕs Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher

65. Fade by Robert Cormier

67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

71. Native Son by Richard Wright

78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier


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