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