This week's Road Trip Wednesday takes us back to school with this topic: In high school, teens are made to read the classics - Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Bronte, Dickens - but there are a lot of books out there never taught in schools. So if you had the power to change school curriculums, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?
At first I thought this would be an easy answer. Shakespeare has to stay. Period. Hawthorne should go. I could write an essay on the reasons why, but I'll just leave it at that. But then I got to Bronte and Dickens. Many a tepid reader has run from the practice of reading all together after drowning in a quagmire of Bronte and/or Dickens literary descriptions. (Did you like how confusing that sentence was? I wrote it in honor of them.) Seriously, both authors can and did use several pages just to describe a living room.
And yet, how do you toss out Pride and Prejudice? or A Tale of Two Cities? Yes, they are written in a style totally unacceptable by today's writing standards, and yes they can be distressing to the not-so-big-reader, but you just can't underestimate the impact those stories have had on our society. Seriously, how many versions of Pride and Prejudice are out there both in print and movies? I'm thinking it's in the three digits.
So to help with my thought process, I went to a list on GoodReads of required reading for high school students. That got me completely fuddled.
Between my required reading of ions ago, and my children'd required reading of not-so-long ago, I think I'm at least familiar with all the books on that list. And as I perused it I began to ask the question of which books do you leave off the list? How does an English teacher ever decide which books are most important? With the exception of a few (see Hawthorne above) they are all books I'd love to cuddle and nurture and share with a young mind.
So I'm going to make my answer simple. I think the only modern story that has had enough of an impact on contemporary society to call for a change in curriculum is Harry Potter. I can't say which of those greats I'd toss, but I'd find a way to fit a discussion of Harry Potter in there somewhere.
What about you? Are there any modern tales worthy of displacing a classic?