Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Required Reading in School – Yay! Or Nay?! Why?

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Blind child reading a braille book I enjoyed most of the required reading in school.Then again, I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life!

Some of the famous writers, poets, and playwrights we studied in school were ones I was already familiar with. For example, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes were all appealing to me.

School introduced me to other storytellers that I hadn’t yet discovered such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, S.E. Hinton, and the person or people who wrote Beowulf. It took a little work to understand them and the cultures that created them, but it was well worth the effort.

I strongly disliked a small percentage of the writers we were assigned to read. A couple of them were dreadfully boring, and others talked about things so beyond my personal experiences that I struggled to relate to them in any way. Out of respect for those individuals, I won’t mention them by name. Not every author will appeal to every reader.

I sympathize with students who felt that way about most or every English class assignment. Yes, expanding young minds is a worthwhile goal, but some works have aged so much that they might be better suited for an adult audience than a preteen or teenage one.

This might veer a little off-topic for today’s post, but I think modern students should still study some classic works. There’s definitely something to be said for being familiar with famous stories that are referenced in so many later paintings, plays, songs, and novels.

However, I also hope that today’s kids and teens will have a chance to read some contemporary authors, too. Not everyone enjoys older writing styles or the themes they explored back then, and there are brilliant storytellers in every generation!

I’d rather encourage students to learn to love reading and to get into the habit of trying new authors, genres, and styles of writing as they come across them.

The classics that might not appeal to them today will still be there when they become adults and have more life experience with which to understand stories from past centuries. Then again, maybe they will be like me and quietly cross a few names off of their reading lists for good!

14 Responses to Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Required Reading in School – Yay! Or Nay?! Why?

  1. I think required reading is important also. If it wasn’t required than kids will never get exposed to anything other than what they want to read. And yes, I agree it should be a mixture of classics and contemporary books. And yes, get some books in there that kids will enjoy as well as learn from. Great post!

  2. Thanks for stopping by…and this I think is one very strong reason for required reading: “There’s definitely something to be said for being familiar with famous stories that are referenced in so many later paintings, plays, songs, and novels.” Without a knowledge of where things come from, a lot of richness in the reading experience is lost.

  3. “some works have aged so much that they might be better suited for an adult audience than a preteen or teenage one.” so very true, but then I agree with this too ” modern students should still study some classic works. There’s definitely something to be said for being familiar with famous stories that are referenced”. So I think you’re right. In the end, encouraging a love of reading is probably the best plan.

    I think required reading did make me try authors I might not have otherwise, like Thoreau and others

    • For sure.

      But I think there are classic novels out there that will appeal to all sorts of readers even if they’re reluctant at first. A mix of classic and contemporary would be a nice way to keep interest levels higher while also giving kids a chance to enjoy books they might not otherwise try.

  4. I found mine unendurable! We had two Shakespeares, Of Mice and Men, and An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley. I think try dislike of those books partly how it was taught and mostly due to the attitude I had, as I now see that they’re all fine authors. Did manage to get an A but only narrowly avoided being out off those authors for life!

  5. When I was in 7th grade I enjoyed Edgar Allan Poe When I was teaching 7th grade English I had to read The Pit and the Pendulum and A Cask of Amontillado to them and explain every other word. That was 30+ years ago and it’s most likely even worse.
    I had a copy of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew on video and the students loved it. Shakespeare needs to be experienced not read and at high school they need to be comedies not tragedies. They have to want to get involved with them not dread them.
    Off my soap box.

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.