August 30: Top Ten Books I Think Should Be Required School Reading
With school due back in session, this week’s freebie topic had to relate in some way. When I was at school, the required reading list was narrow and short. I think that too much of the required reading in schools is too out-dated to be relevant in modern society: not in terms of the morals, but in terms of grabbing the attention of young people. As a result, my list contains a number of classics and a number of modern classics.
1. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
This English classic teaches old-fashioned gender stereotypes, though with a strong (for her time) female protagonist, and incorporates hard-hitting themes such as rape.
2. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
This is pure fun, or at least it could be made to be so. Kids love things that are entertaining and out of the ordinary, and this play centres on witches and suspicion in the American town of Salem.
3. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
A modern classic, it includes the important themes of race, blurred boundaries between consensual relationships and rape, and freedom fighting/terrorism.
4. Antigone by Sophocles
Another problem with school literature is that it doesn’t cover true classics (as in Greek and Roman). This play is powerful and entwined with forbidden love, murder and suicide: it’s brutal.
5. I’m The King Of The Castle by Susan Hill
Strangely, this was one of my GCSE texts, uncommon as it is. Centring around two children, it deals with bullying, loneliness and suicide.
6. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
An American classroom staple, told through the eyes of a child this novel is interesting from the perspectives of race, the law and courage.
7. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
A modern novel told by autistic teenager Christopher, it deals with social isolation, individualism and helps to change and develop society’s view of the disorder.
8. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This post-apocalyptic novel centres around a man and his child, who having survived the war are forced to survive by any means necessary. It’s themes include murder, love and sacrifice.
9. George by Alex Gino
This is a new middle-grade novel that I believe holds great importance when it comes to educating younger children. The premise revolves around a transgender child, her acceptance of who she is and the issues (and latterly support) surrounding her transition.
10. Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
Despite not wanting to include the devil (in the eyes of children) on this list, I do think his works are important. I studied The Merchant of Venice and The Tempest (with smatterings of Macbeth) at secondary school and hated every second of it. However, for my MA I studied Coriolanus, and I do believe that if taught in an interesting enough way, kids could enjoy the elements of war, uprising and honour.
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