Banned Books Week is here! The week of September 18 – September 24, 2022, teachers and librarians from all over will be celebrating the literature that has the power and potential to challenge and shape the perspective of our lives and the world. Books that also happen to be banned.

We already know books are banned, but it begs the question, Is it morally permissible to censor ideas?

This question is at the heart of the Scopes Trial Dilemma OneSheet, and at the center of the debate on banning books, a debate that is neither new nor exclusive to literature and libraries. An early instance of this debate is seen in the Scopes Monkey Trial, formally known as the State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes. In this historical trial, John Thomas Scopes was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which made it illegal for any teacher to teach evolution in a school funded by the state. Scopes was found guilty and fined, but the verdict was later overturned due to a technicality.

This trial sparked a decades-long debate on evolution vs. creationism and how America’s schools should approach teaching the beginnings of the universe and man. Alongside this debate, censorship in schools and libraries has also arisen from this case.

This is a popular Dilemma One Sheet because it has so many applications to other current topics including hate speech on campuses, fake news and the First Amendment, and more.

If you are unfamiliar with my Dilemma One Sheets, they are single-page documents that address popular and relevant issues in society that have practical applications to classroom curricula. They are quick and engaging activities that bring students together in discussion, research, and critical thinking. Use them as a discussion piece, group activities, or no-prep substitute lessons!

Included in this Dilemma One Sheet:

  • Teacher Notes
  • One Sheet Dilemma- print on 11×17 paper for best results
  • Interactive One Sheet (Only in the Google Slides edition)
  • Student Examples (Only in Google Slides edition)

Additional Resources Included

  • Links to online sites for future research (Only in Google Slides edition)
  • Extra page of additional information with excerpts from the trial
  • Additional 5 questions with relevant links (Only in Google Slides edition)

The pluralism of ideas is fundamental to a democratic society. There can be more than one way of living, speaking, etc., and many believe it is important for readers to be exposed to a variety of ideas to help them begin to conceive or formulate how they see the world.

The broader and more varied the literature, the broader and more varied our perspectives are, no? Well, not everyone believes this, which is why certain books have been banned in both libraries and school curricula.

Why are books banned? There are many reasons; however, some frequently used excuses include issues involving race that could cause discomfort, encouraging immoral behavior, violence or negativity, political bias, religious bias, and so many others.

As Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, said, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” So go out and read all the books from these lists that you can!

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If you would like this product without the Google Slides component you will find it here:

Critical Thinking Dilemma One Sheet (#5) 1st Amendment and Free Speech


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