Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Your Required Reading List




This week's 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?

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So many books to choose from, so little time! Of course, there's no question that the classics have to be kept. But how do you choose books that will really inspire a love of reading and get students naturally using all those critical thinking skills teachers want to see?

It happened with the Harry Potter series, where avid fans spent hours and hours online discussing the plot, the characters, the relationships, their theories about what the future of the series would hold. Oh, and of course creating everything from role play stories, to fanfiction, to a new genre of music! Even if it hadn't been a truly incredible fantasy series, for that reason alone it would be wonderful to see new students introduced to the series so they can discover the magic for themselves.

I'd also include the Hunger Games trilogy.  That could lead to a great discussion about society (What makes their society dystopian? How did it become so? Is our society dystopian in its own way and what might our society be like a hundred years from now, a thousand?), the symbolism of the Mockingjay, the characters, and much more.  I discovered an anthology, The Girl Who Was On Fire, with some wonderful author essays discussing politics, the effects of the games on the tributes, and many other aspects of the trilogy. The link to the anthology also has excerpts from the essays.

Those are my top required reading picks for generating great reading discussions.  Can't wait to see what others chose!

17 comments:

  1. I've heard of a lot of classes in high school where the students pick the books to read for class. That sounds cool. While students should read some more non-classics, I really think that writers themselves could use to read a lot more classics!

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  2. Yay for Harry Potter and Hunger Games!

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  3. Rain, I love the idea of giving the students a choice. That way you don't get the "I automatically hate this because I HAVE to read this" effect. So true about how we writers should read more classics. I'm guilty of needing to do that. Time to download more of them to the Kindle!

    Juliana, they are such awesome series. They each give readers so much to discuss, so much that resonates with people, so I thought they'd make great class reading that students could hopefully get really excited about.

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  4. *nods*

    *applauds your choices*

    Both are series I'll reread year after year after year.

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  5. So will I, Sara. Oh, and I'll still be spending a little time doing Harry Potter role play, checking out Pottermore, and eagerly awaiting the Hunger Games movies.

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  6. All awesome choices that would be on my list too!

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  7. Love the choices! And that's a really good idea, to free up high school students to write fanfic or do some other project related to the world of the books they're reading. It requires creativity and much critical thinking about the characters/plot/setting/etc. I would have learned much more through that kind of challenge!

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  8. Ooo, I'll have to check out that The Girl Who Was on Fire anthology. It sounds like it would shed some interesting new lights on aspects of the Hunger Games and its world. Thanks for mentioning it!

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  9. Okay why had I not heard of that anthology? Sounds brilliant! (also, obviously, I agree with your choices :) )

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  10. I may have to check out that anthology! And great choices!

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  11. Thanks, Jaime! It's been fun checking out everyone's choices =).

    Sarah, so true! Some of my favorite assignments were the ones that involved creative writing.

    Angelica, the excerpts from the essays looked amazing. I may have to buy the anthology soon. Enjoy!

    Alison,you totally should. Thanks :) yours,too! This week's topic was great :)


    Kathleen, it does seem like a brilliant anthology! Glad to have shared the info about it

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  12. I think The Hunger Games has been on every list I've looked at so far (including my own). I'm glad everyone thinks it's that important =)

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  13. Stephanie,I was noticing that,too. It is really great,and I'm also glad it's widely considered important.

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  14. Some great, great choices. These lists seem to be adding to the books i need to buy.

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  15. Thanks, Beck! That's what's made this RTW so much fun--finding all those new books to add to the must-read/must-buy list! =)

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  16. I would include the Amber series of epic/urban fantasy by Roger Zelazny -- an author of mythic lyrical magic who is now, sadly, largely forgotten. He was the one who inspired me to write science-fantasy as he called it. Roland

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  17. Roland, that series sounds great! I'll definitely have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

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