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16 Nov 2011

RTW: Required Reading

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link -- or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

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?

Since year nine I studied at least one Shakespeare play all the way until my second year at university  I think I studied about eight of them throughout my first two years there.  There were quite a few occasions where I studied a book two or three times in my education.  While it meant I knew the book quite well it was also a little boring re-studying a book again and wished there was more variety and definitely a little less Shakespeare. 

Maybe High School English could do with more classics aimed at a younger audience? When I was doing my GCSEs and A*Levels I would have loved to study a book where the characters were around my age or younger. At university we had a module based entirely around children's literature where we read Alice in Wonderland, What Katy Did, Peter Rabbit etc.  And it was fascinating - the issues and context explored were interesting.  My first essay on the module discussed how Alice in Wonderland and What Katy Did presented authority and the second essay talked about what the choice of colour, frame, and character position in picture books show the reader.My education just seemed to full of Shakespeare. So I'm not really rushing to read more Shakespeare at the moment.

So my suggestions?


Well, for a teenage audience I think S.E Hinton's The Outsiders would be an excellent addition to a reading list.  It discusses social divide between young people through subcultures and wealth - something that still goes on in high school today.  In The Outsiders it was greasers and socs.  At my high school I saw it was between the chavs and grungers/goths. 

Anything by Terry Pratchett in his Discworld Series.  Just to study the art of comic intertextuality and how Pratchett uses folklore, television, and social issues to satirise and create his own little world.  If there was an arc I had to choose for reading in school it would have to be the witches.  Agnes Nitt, Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick, and Granny Weatherwax.  Their story-arcs are my favourite.

And finally The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  I love my satire, I can't help it. :) And the narration is quite interesting and experimental, jumping from the story to the author interrupting and we, as readers, learning we're reading an abridgment of the actual novel by S.Morgenstern in the beginning. Very meta.  Teachers, go wild studying the metanarrative aspect of the novel!

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