Okay, students, we get it. You hate the books you’re assigned to read. No, don’t be polite, tell us how you really feel . I sympathize. I had to read THE PEARL in high school too. Are you all right? You look pale. Let me get you a drink of water. Why, yes, you heard right. They were torturing kids with John Steinbeck’s most depressing book when I was in high school too -THIRTY YEARS AGO. Some kids at my school were luckier. They read THE OUTSIDERS. What’s that you say? They forced you to read THE OUTSIDERS too? Wow, lucky you. You got to read a novel as old as me written by a girl as young as you. Mmmmm…edulicious.
I’m sorry, I didn’t get that, I couldn’t quite hear through your wracking sobs. What did you say? What do you mean “more recent books”? Who is Hannah Moskowitz? John Green? Who’s that? Markus Zusak? Cory Doctorow? Laurie Halse-Anderson? Ellen Hopkins? Walter Dean-Myers? Who are all these people? Stop it! You’re freaking me out! Are you telling me that OTHER BOOKS suitable for teaching in school have been released in the past forty years? I don’t believe it.
And anyway, what are you complaining about? Being forced to read depressing books that don’t interest you and that you don’t like is just part of life. Why just the other day one of my husband’s clients said to him: “I’d love to get this contract signed for you so we can begin designing the interface, but before I’m willing to do that, I really need you to read A FINE BALANCE by Rohinton Mistry. It’s just part of our standard operating procedure. You understand. Oh, and I’ll be testing you on symbolism and the depiction of colonial violence.”
And the other day, the contractor who is rebuilding the front porch he tore apart informed me that he expected a ten page report on ANNA KARININA along with this month’s check. My doctor made me analyse three Sylvia Plath poems before she would do my pap exam. I made my waitress at The Boathouse recite “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” before I tipped her. Heck, my whole block had to read and discuss JUDE THE OBSCURE before the city would fix a burst water main. That was a hell of a week.
You know what teachers, schools and schools boards? Treat teens like adults and let them choose their own damn books.