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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!