I came across an interesting article today. This article talked about what Required Reading in high schools. This is a discussion I’ve been having with my graduate class as well. We discussed the levels of required reading, voluntary reading, whole class reads vs voluntary reads or choice reads. With the implementation of the Common Core, there is a paradigm shift back to the whole-class read because of the emphasis on challenging texts. This shift, I worry, will result in the same old problem we had that got us to a need for the common core: kids don’t like to challenge themselves, especially when it comes to reading. I do, however, believe that students need to experience culture in the classroom. This list from the Huffington Post presents lots of great books that Madeleine Crum feels should be included in the high school curriculum. Like Crum, I consider myself an avid reader but I have not experienced many of these texts. The course I teach primarily is American Literature, which means I am bound to teach a lot of the classics. This, by no means, is a bad thing. I think some of the cannon literature is great — Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, and The Crucible being among some of my favorite reads as a student and as a student an an adult. I think students should be encouraged to experience different cultures, too, though. I think of my American Literature class as a melting pot of text, so I look forward to finding some things to add from this list as I redesign my curriculum goals for the Common Core standards.
This article, however, is a fantastic read for an eye-opening look at what is missed by standardizing curriculum around the cannon. Students should be encouraged to explore all cultures and to enjoy reading fluently throughout their lives.
Link to the Huffington Post Article: “9 Books You Should Have Read in High School”
The views on this blog are mine alone and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.
Kari teaches English I to 9th graders (!) and other electives in rural Iowa. Her husband is also an English teacher, and their friends have sworn to never help them move again because "even libraries don't have that many books."