So, how many times do you look fondly back on the books you were forced to read in English class? I know, I know, once we get older we ‘develop an appreciation’ for things. But, eh, I call bull$%@& on that for the most part. The Catcher in the Rye? Romeo and Juliet? (Okay, alright, yes, how dare I poo-poo the teaching of Shakespeare! But, I mean, seriously? You’re going to teach about ‘star-crossed’ lovers to a bunch of teens who are thinking more with their nether regions than their brains that its the ultimate love story to have the feels for someone so badly you’d rather die than live without them? TEENS?!) Wuthering Heights? The soap opera of the world before television? (Sorry, Gracie!) While there are some fantastic books that are taught (I’m blatantly ignoring the fact that some teachers apparently try to be hip by teaching Twilight), doesn’t our reading list need a bit of an update?
So, when Broke and Bookish gave us a Back to School Freebie, we decided to commit the ultimate no-no, and screw with The High School Reading List. Du-du-dum!
Forgive us, English teachers everywhere, for we have sinned. (But not too badly, because we kept a few of the best ones around.)
The New High School Reading List
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Why we should keep it: Just look around. This book is scarily relevant. That’s reason enough.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Why we should teach it: Because it teaches Other in a way anyone can understand.
Damocles by S.G. Redding
Why we should teach it: Because it’s a first contact novel that isn’t a huge series, isn’t all about war, and showcases the beauty in connections that can happen when you’re willing to look past each other’s physical differences.
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Why we should teach it: Because it discusses non-binary genders, expands upon the idea of survival in space beyond what everyone else writes about, and makes the reader think about not only the immediate impact of their actions but the far-reaching ripples as well.
The Dean Machine by Dylan Lee Peters
Why we should teach it: Because it’s a book that makes you think. It could provoke hours of discussion in the classroom on everything from ethics to simply the recognizable homages in the book. Because, ultimately, it’s a book that will make readers uncomfortable, and we all need that sometimes.
The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
Why we should teach it: Because it is a classic example of an unreliable narrator. It’s ending and themes virtually guarantee an interesting class discussion.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
Why we should teach it: It is an excellent study in personal responsibility as Dr, Jekyll is not a saint. He does not wish to separate himself from evil but merely wishes to ‘Hyde’ behind him.
The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction – Dorothy Scarborough
Why we should teach it: It’s good to know the roots and evolution of any kind of literature. Horror fiction is no different.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
Why we should teach it: With the psychological aspects of it and part mystery it is guaranteed to create some interesting discussions in a classroom.
Out of Tune – Edited by Jonathan Maberry
Why we should teach it: Why? Well, music appreciation, of course. And the fact that the stories are based on old ballads and poems, which would give a deeper meaning to music to know where it came from and how it’s evolved.
Well, there you go. We decided to keep this post fairly minimalist, but I think we got our point across.
What about you? What books have you read since ‘growing up’ that you think should have been taught in high school, and why?