Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s topic is: Top Ten Books that Would Be on Your Syllabus if You Taught “X” 101. So I have a confession to make. I’m apparently not very good at thinking of 10 books that fit any list. But I also can’t just leave the list at less than 10. Less than 10 = Less than finished = sleepless nights. So I keep morphing these things to allow me to finish the lists. I hope I’m not disappointing the lovely folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. I’m sorry for letting you down. *glistening tear*.
Anyhoo! Since I couldn’t decide on 10 books that fit a theme well, I mixed it up again. My Top 10 Tuesday is: 5 Books that I Wouldn’t Teach if I taught English Lit 101 and 5 Books I’d replace them with. These are all books that were taught at my high school, and their presence on this list doesn’t mean that I don’t like them; just that I don’t think they bring out the full potential of teenagers. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you why I think so.
Frankenstein – The Giver
Why not Frankenstein? Because even I, an obsessive reader, didn’t read this book. ‘Nough said.
Why The Giver? I know this is technically a children’s book. But I just read it for the first time a year ago and it is SO AMAZING. I think that to truly appreciate it, you need to be a little older. It’s a quick read and exploring it with teenagers would (hopefully) open their minds to reading, instead of forcing them to read it.
The Grapes of Wrath – My Sister’s Keeper
Why not The Grapes of Wrath? Steinbeck is hard to read. I’m not saying that teens can’t read it, but odds are, they won’t. The kids that are interested in reading the classics will read them on their own, I think it’s silly that schools keep teaching them when they aren’t engaging kids and, if anything, are making them less interested in reading. It shouldn’t feel like a chore, it should be fun.
Why My Sister’s Keeper? Kind of a stretch, but at their hearts, both of these novels are about family hardship. My Sister’s Keeper has the added benefit of discussing advancements in the medical field and coming from both the parents and kids’ point of view; an important change in perspective for teens to consider.
The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank – The Book Thief
Why not The Diary of a Young Girl? Aljce;oijsfejfl;kajflj. Okay. I will admit it. I didn’t use to like this book. BUT. I am reading it now, and I’m awed by how insightful Anne is at her age. However, as a teenager, I didn’t relate to her. Anne is not like teens these days. I think this will be an unpopular opinion, but I think it’s a book that you need to be older to appreciate the magnitude of her spirit under pressure. Her day-to-day ramblings aren’t terribly exciting unless you keep in mind exactly what she was going through.
Why The Book Thief? It’s a modern take on the same time period. If you want to teach about WWII, the kids need to read a story of what is actually happening, rather than a diary of someone hiding from it. I would also say Night would be a fantastic choice; I read that in high school as well and absolutely loved it.
Romeo and Juliet – Eleanor and Park
Okay, this one is kind of funny because I actually hate both of these books. I remember my high school teacher picked me to be Juliet for the balcony scene, and he had me stand on the heater while I was serenaded by Romeo. He was awesome. But I still hated both Romeo and Juliet. Anyway, these are basically the same story, but Eleanor & Park is modernized. Shakespeare is hard. Like, really hard. It might actually be cool to teach both of these and see what combined understanding comes out of it.
Brave New World – The Hunger Games
Why not Brave New World? This one is not actually a hard read. And the message is both relevant and interesting. But I think we can do better.
Why The Hunger Games? It allows us to examine dystopian futures in a more teen-friendly way. Why can’t the novels we teach be more exciting? I say again. We should be inspiring teens to read by studying the books that they actually want to read. I am all about the classics. But I am also for a good education. And I think selecting more modern novels is the best way to push English away from being the most hated subject. I hated English in high school. I know! Me! I want to make it better for the kids who come after me. Because reading is a truly incredible thing, and no child should be discouraged because they’re being forced to read outdated material that most adults don’t even like.
What do you think about my changing-it-up theory?
I’ll write again soon. Until then, keep reading!