Required Reading

Since it’s still the beginning of back-to-school season, I thought I would talk about required reading in the school setting. As someone who not only has their undergraduate degree in English and secondary education, but works as a librarian at a high school, I have mixed feelings about required reading. I think having students read books for class is a great way to expose them to many wonderful novels that they normally may not have picked up, but at the same time, forcing someone to read a book against their will is a sure way to make sure they don’t enjoy it. Speaking from personal experience on the latter, I know how easy it is to turn a student completely off from reading by requiring them to do so; I absolutely HATE The Lord of the Flies because of this very reason.

From a teacher’s perspective, required reading is the best (and sometimes only) way to get students to actually read. Likewise, required reading is part of the curriculum in schools and is necessary in order for students to pass. However, from a student’s perspective, required reading may provide the chance to read something pretty interesting, but usually it doesn’t…at least, not to the typical student. When I was a high school student, I loved The Crucible, and it was required reading in 12th grade, whereas The Lord of the Flies and The Red Badge of Courage will never make their way off my hate list because they were also required reading.

I guess it really depends on the personality of the student doing the readings; many of my friends liked The Lord of the Flies and couldn’t figure out why I didn’t. Likewise, I know a lot of college students who disliked Frankenstein or Jane Eyre, yet I absolutely loved both.

What are some required reading books y’all had? Which ones did you like? Which ones did you not like?

Let’s see if I can remember some of my required readings…

To Kill a Mockingbird

All Quiet on the Western Front

The Lord of the Flies

The Good Earth

The Crucible

Hamlet

Frankenstein

Julius Caesar 

Jane Eyre

Wuthering Heights

Gulliver’s Travels

Slaughterhouse-Five

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One thought on “Required Reading

  1. Thank you thank you for writing this post! As a junior in high school, this is very relevant to me! We read Macbeth and Lord of the Flies last year, and as I expressed in a review of the latter, I also hated it. One of my favorite classics, 1984, was born from an assigned reading a few years ago, but I was in a small advanced group that was allowed to read at their own pace, which made it seem like less of an assignment. I was lucky enough to read To Kill a Mockingbird on my own before I got the chance to read it in school, so my opinion of that book has not been tainted! Some of my other readings included All Quiet in the Western Front, City of Thieves, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Nectar in a Sieve, The Life of Pi, Romeo and Juliet, and In the Time of the Butterflies. Thanks again for this awesome post — I love reading your thoughts! ~Gwen

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