Monday, September 2, 2013

Top Ten Books That I Wish Were Taught In Schools


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Young adult literature should get the reputation it deserves as high quality literature worthy of study and analysis. Schools are slowly coming around to this, with some schools adding books by John Green and Sherman Alexie onto their curriculums. But why shouldn't fantasy or dystopian be taught in schools? Why is it thought to be of lesser intellectual quality that navel-gazing contemporaries? Don't get me wrong, I have loved my fair share of pretentious, navel-gazing contemporaries, but those aren't the only books of literary value. Genre books are just as intellectual. *climbs off nerd soap box*

Obviously, I could only include books that I've read, though I could think of a dozen more that I haven't that should probably go one here (like The Book Thief).

Also, I didn't include any books that I actually READ in school, even though I went to pretty atypical schools with atypical curriculum, meaning I read some books that may show up on other people's lists. OH WELL. MY LIST, MY RULES.

1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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 I learned about history as a kid through reading historical fiction. Books like Number the Stars and the American girl series taught be what World War II was far more than facts in a textbook ever could. Code Name Verity is the kind of masterpiece that should be required reading for everyone

2. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

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DITTO. And yes, they should teach both. RUF should be shoved in the hands of every child ever.


3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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I mean, the kids might fall apart crying, but at least they'll read some gorgeous prose and learn some powerful truths about life and death.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Kids should read this for two important reasons: 1) it is full of horrible awesomeness and teaches all kinds of valuable lessons, like THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS JOY (and other things), and 2) the kids who read this book are fully informed members of society. This book is so much a part of our pop-culture that to be fully ignorant of it makes you... well, a little bit more ignorant.

*apologizes to blogreaders who haven't read it yet* I'M NOT CALLING YOU STUPID, I haven't read John Green, either. You're allowed to pelt me with stones. *cowers*


5. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

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For starters, this book would increase any kids vocabulary by about a million percent. The complexities of Seraphina's world, with it's politics and prejudices, would be a great setting for some classroom learning.

6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

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TCIotDitN is, despite it's cumbersome name, a short and powerful novel. It's told from the point of view of an autistic teenager, and it never once devolves into schmaltz. It's funny, clever, and fascinating while managing to be brutal.

7. Speak by Laurie Hals Anderson

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This one seems primed and ready to be taught in schools (and it may be taught in places... though I recall a butt-faced douche-rocket trying to ban this a couple weeks ago). It's unflinching, raw, funny, and heartbreaking, and could teach millions of kids to find their voices.

8. The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce

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LE DUH. Actually, I'd accept any Tortall-set Pierce series here. The Immortals, Protector of the Small, Tricksters. All full of awesome girl power, action, and excellent social messages.

 8. (tie) His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

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Considering the severe anti-religion themes of this series, I can understand why it probably WOULDN'T be taught in most schools, but it really is such a glorious, intelligent, imaginative series

9. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

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HEAR. ME. OUT. As a definitive piece of culture, for good or for bad, Twilight is worth analysis almost as a historical artifact. Why did it gain the fame and popularity that it did? What about this book, and the time it was published, lead to such a phenomenon?

10. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

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Ditto above, except including literary analysis, because it is full of depth and awesome and life lessons and magicccc. And it should be law that every human being read this series. Bump Catcher in the Rye and that snot-nose Holden off the list for HP and Company.

Honorable mentions: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Forever by Judy Blume, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, The Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers, Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen.

34 comments:

  1. I think that Code Name Verity would be very difficult to teach since it is so tangled up until the end of the book. I think that students would get frustrated before that point.

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  2. I agree with you on Speak. I didn't even think of the Song of the Lioness books for this-- that would bring some really interesting discussions to the classroom. If Twilight were offered, I think I still wouldn't read it, but I'd encourage the mayhem that class discussions would bring.


    My TTT

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  3. Speak was taught in some of the classes in my high school. Definitely agree it's an important book to read! I agree with Graceling, HP, THG, and The Book Thief, too. Dystopian and fantasies are just as "literary" as contemporary and deserve to be taught!

    My TTT

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  4. Great list! The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been on my want-to-read for ages now, I really need to check it out sometime soon.

    My TTT

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  5. I completely agree with you on many of the books. I have The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night Time, Speak and The Hunger Games on my list this week too.

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  6. Haha Twilight is a kind of hystorical artifact. It'd teach future writers how to not write your characters or what story to avoid :p

    My TTT

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  7. Dystopian shouldn't be dissed at all, after all A Brave New World and 1984 are the first examples of dystopia and are considered great books, aren't they? (and they are, mind blowing books that make you think).

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  8. I've only read one John Green book, and I'm okay with that. So there won't be any pelting coming from me! The Curious Incident... is one that I read while I was at school, and it really changed a lot of things for me. I have an autistic brother, and I thought the book was fantastic and the main character was brilliantly dealt with. YES to HP!

    Books of Amber

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  9. I completely agree with you on Speak, Harry Potter, & The Golden Compass!
    Plus the butt-faced douche-rocket comment about the guy who tried to ban Speak, was that the jerk who called it pornography? That was BS.
    There are some other books on here that I have been meaning to read for a long time and others I haven't heard of, so thank you for the recommendations!

    My Top Ten Tuesday- http://wp.me/p3DIPM-6e

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  10. I agree with Hunger Games and Harry Potter! I actually had The Curious Incident for my required reading last year! I'm not really a fan of those kinds of books, but it's really great for analyzing. :)
    My Top 10 Tuesday
    Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

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  11. Great list! I actually studied HP & the Prisoner of Azkaban in high school and it was a lot of fun. It's such an entertaining and approachable book but there's quite a bit of "serious" literary analysis you can do.

    Delicious & Fictitious

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  12. Your list is fantastic... I'm a new GFC follower.

    http://littlesqueed.blogspot.com/2013/09/top-ten-tuesday-what-im-reading-and.html

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  13. Great list! I included the Betsy-Tacy books, too. :)

    http://bookworm716.blogspot.com/2013/09/top-ten-tuesday-books-i-wish-were.html

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  14. Great list! Definitely agree with Speak. I think students should be taught books like this because it pertains to discussions that should be held in an open forum like a classroom. And I think Twilight would actually be really good for a literary culture class in college.

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  15. Great TT! HP and the hunger games are on my list too:) Both teach valuable lessons.

    TTT @ Eveline's Books

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  16. great picks! i definitely think HP should be in schools.

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  17. Excellent list. :) We have some of the same ones listed.

    My TTT.

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  18. Love this list! We have similar books. :)

    My TTT:http://spunwithwords.blogspot.com/2013/09/top-ten-tuesday-9313.html

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  19. Annnnd it's official: I kinda love you. 1) "it is full of horrible awesomeness and teaches all kinds of valuable lessons, like THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS JOY" 2) "Twilight is worth analysis almost as a historical artifact." 3) As I was scrolling down, I was like 'if she doesn't add Harry Potter, my head will explode' so...yeah. Also, this: "Bump Catcher in the Rye and that snot-nose Holden off the list for HP and Company." 4) Your honourable mention of Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen. YES. So much yes.

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  20. WE ARE ONNNNNNNNNE and I love you. That is all.

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  21. YES to Harry Potter! I chose it, as well.

    Re: Twilight. Confession: young!Molli LURVED Twilight. Why? I couldn't say. It like HP got a whole slew of folks to READ, so it deserves some SLIGHT applause for that. It really would be fascinating to objectively study it. I always get so rage face over it though, so *I* shouldn't study it... BUT.

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  22. Awesome list. <3 Sob. His Dark Materials.. Best books. And yesss. Rose Under Fire! I just read it and god. So good.

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  23. Great list! I agree with Twilight being on there. No matter how you see it, it's still a definitive piece of *cough* literature that could be used for analysis. Especially for gender roles, etc.

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  24. I've read four out of the ten - If I Stay, Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter. All of the rest are on my TBR list. I agree with you - great list!

    My TTT @ Donnie Darko Girl

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  25. Hah hah, I love that you have Twilight on here. I do think there's something to be said for using reading material more kids might relate to, though--and I think you're right about the discussion of historical context.

    Incidentally, I don't know why I've never visited you before now! HELLO. *waves madly*

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  26. I love that a book about the dragons made your list – it makes me want to pick Seraphina up much quicker than I was going to. I also love many of the others you included. By the way, I don't make it over to comment very often, but I thoroughly enjoy all of your posts in my email – you have a great blog!

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  27. Code Name Verity was on my list too! Gosh, I would have loved school if they had assigned me Harry Potter to read. Kids need books they can relate too... I understand assigning classics because many of those do need to be read but more modern books should be incorporated. Great list!

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  28. Ah, GillyB, what great picks.

    Let's just agree that everyone, everywhere should have to read Wein. Out of school, in school, homeschooled... EVERYONE. (Also nostalgia points for Number the Stars. I own a very battered, thoroughly loved copy to this day.)

    Aaaah, If I Stay. Such a lovely little book - I think high school students would get a lot out of Mia's story.

    YES HUNGER GAMES. LET'S MAKE THEM ALL FIGHT TO THE DEATH IN HIGH SCHOOL. I kid. Somewhat. but the way this book entwines war, reality tv and death would really resonate with that audience.

    I wish more people would read Seraphina. It's such a gorgeously written book and handles things like prejudice and self-wroth so well.

    Speak should be required reading. That's all I have to say. A powerful, poignant book like that is needed in the rape culture that pervades America.

    I love me some Philip Pullman. His inclusion is both full of sense and awesome.

    Interesting ideas on Twilight. That discussion would be one I'd be interested to hear.

    YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY HARRY POTTER. My only question is HOW IS IT NOT PART OF THE CURRICULUM ALREADY? I did have a teacher that read HP out loud to us for SSR. She is one of my most fondly remembered elementary teachers. COINCIDENCE?

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  29. YES YES YES TO CODE NAME VERITY. It's been a while since I've been in school, but if I had kids I would want them to be reading books like Verity and The Book Thief when studying WWII

    The Hunger Games definitely needs to be taught in schools and I wouldn't be surprised if it started popping up on lists.

    Total agreement over TCIotDitN as well. So powerful. Kids need to be reading books like this.

    I STILL HAVEN'T READ ANY TAMORA PIERCE. Don't kill me. I mean to. But other things keep getting in the way.

    I don't know why they don't teach His Dark Materials. It first came to my attention in that class they stuck me in for 6th graders who were too smart for their own good and got into trouble. I fell in love with it then.

    Agree wholeheartedly on Twilight, for exactly those reasons.

    I can't agree to bumping my favorite book of all time off in favor of HP, but HP should definitely be read in school. If only beause I think it would help more kids fall in love with reading.

    Also agreeing with Graceling, Forever, Grave Mercy, and the Betsy-Tacy books because YES.

    AND ALSO READ JOHN GREEN BOOKS OKAY.

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  30. I DID read The Curious Incident... for a high school class :P
    Best class ever.

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  31. Every single person opened with CNV. Or at least all my friends did. Haha.

    OH MY GOD YOU REALLY CHOSE ONLY TEN (and some honorable mentions)!

    *hides under desk because apocalypse is obviously imminent*

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  32. Actually, The Curious Incident of The Dog at Nighttime is required reading for seniors at my high school.

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