Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Wish I Had to Read in High School

Freebie Week! Pick a topic near and dear to your heart. 
Something you wished was on our official list.

One of my greatest regrets from my high school years is that my peers and I were not challenged to read great literature.   The only book I remember having to read in 9th grade was Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, which was a major impression on me; however, imagine a vigorous reading list during my most impressionable years, and how it may have changed my life, or better yet, shattered my intimidation of reading the classics altogether.   

I am not saying it is only a school's responsibility to provide students with challenging reading lists, but I am saying that they should.  It is common sense.  Young people, such as I was, may not have parents or mentors to direct them to such ideas in literature, or young people may not even know naturally that they will love literature.  But schools should challenge their students nonetheless. Reading great literature can teach us in all areas of life and make us more compassionate and empathetic towards others. 

It was really difficult to choose titles because there are so many important works to choose from, so this is in no way an exhaustive list.  I only know that had I been exposed to these books, I would have been changed a lot earlier in life.

Ten Books I Wish I Had to Read in High School

The Four Voyages - Christopher Columbus

The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

Up From Slavery - Booker T. Washington


The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass


Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Harriet Jacobs

Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë

Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell

Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes 


The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom

What are some books you wished you were exposed to in high school?


Joseph said...

Excellent! *sigh* Yes, it's too bad there isn't more emphasis on literature. I had a lit class, and we were assigned a number of classic fictional works, but nothing else.

Ruth said...

That's a lot more than I can say for my high school. Such a shame. : (

Lois Tinúviel said...

There's some on here I haven't read (but hopefully will in the future) and of the ones I've read I couldn't agree more. I remember Up From Slavery really impacting me when I read it in high school.

Anonymous said...

You know there are some books which are more enjoyed as an adult for instance I had Jane Eyre, Don Quixote and Little Women in my high school read. I liked only Little Women and to some extent Jane Eyre (I could not understand her going back to Mr. Rochester...for that matter I still cannot at some levels) in my then reading of these books. It was only as an adult I could really appreciate Don Quixote and the multiple layers that Cervantes tried to bring. But I agree with with you. Schools should be able the window of great literature to the minds of young people and then let them sort it out.

Ruth said...

How nice that you were able to read that in high school. It is essential reading.

Ruth said...

I was thinking of that, too: would high school students be able to appreciate great works? I think it is possible if they have a good teacher, and if reading challenging literature is commonplace throughout their years of education. For example, I went to a Catholic elementary school, and we had to read Of Mice and Men, The Scarlet Letter, Old Man and the Sea, and Red Badge of Courage all before sixth grade. And our teachers walked us through the vocab and themes. If my public school system was doing the same, by high school, students would have been prepared to read Jane Eyre, Don Quixote, and the like. especially if the instructors are engaged in teaching them.

Anyway, it looks like you had exposure to the classics in your high school, and I think that's great. Even if high school students don't totally grasp the themes and ideas, I think it is more important that they are introduced to great literature.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the teachers...a good teacher can do much and even if they do not have a good teachers. atleast they should still be introduced to some good works and they can pick it up from there. They should know what is being served!

RT said...

I like your "wish list." I also had some great English teachers throughout school, and we tackled a couple of Shakespeare plays in different H.S. school years (Julius Caesar, Merchant of Venice, and Macbeth), but I wish we had read many more; of course, there were probably no other students in my classes who would have endorsed my wish.

Cleo said...

The only classics I remember reading are The Lord of the Flies, The Great Gatsby and Of Mice and Men. Oh, and I think Le Petit Prince. I remember wondering why we were being made to read such boring books. If you have a good teacher, he/she can communicate the great ideas in the literature, but if not, I think much of it goes by the wayside, sadly. I probably avoided classics because of my high school experience.

Wow, I can't believe that you read all those book before grade six! My friend's daughter read Swallows and Amazons in grade 9, if you can believe it. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Swallows and Amazons, but for a grade 4 or 5. Just pitiful ......

Ruth said...

You're probably right. And Shakespeare is not easy either.

Ruth said...

My Catholic elementary school in New York was still teaching classical education, so it was vigorous and challenging. It was not strange that we had to read the classics, and it raised the bar for students. Then when I moved to California and went to public school, I was no longer challenged; all that I was accustomed to was lost.

Do you feel differently now about those classics that you read in high school? I think I would have loved reading more classics in high school, but I wonder if by high school, more young people may not be interested in reading or they may not appreciate the classics. The solution to that may be exposing them at a really early age - like elementary school. Raise the bar and get it into their blood. Then by high school they can read the Ancients.

But then, I'm not the one designing school standards, so...

Cleo said...

Well, the only one I've re-read so far is The Great Gatsby and I both did and didn't feel differently about it. I certainly understood the subtleties better, but I still thought the book was bleak and not very "useful". Not that everything has to be bright and happy, but you can present a negative situation to communicate a positive lesson, or feeling. Fitzgerald, IMO, didn't do that. As for the others, I don't think my general feelings about them will change except for The Lord of the Flies; I think that I'll see the positive aspects with a re-read.

Exposing children at an early age and making the classics exciting for them is an excellent idea! I think we're both doing (or did) that with our kids right now and seeing enormous benefits.

Anonymous said...

Interesting list, I noticed it is more historically-oriented than fictional. In high school I remember reading: The Lord of the Flies, Ethan Frome, Of Mice and Men, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Huckleberry Finn, A Doll's House, a short story by Woody Allen, one by Philip Roth. I also read selections of the Greek Myths (in an elective course I took on Greek Mythology). Also, we had to write a term paper Junior Year where we had to pick a work individually and write about it, which I picked The Red Badge of Courage. In High school, though, I didn't really enjoy reading literature. So I'm not sure how well I read these.

Ruth said...

Yeah, I gravitate towards non-fiction, biographies, and especially history. I could have added some ancient texts, but I have not them, yet.

I admire your high school literature experience; and even if you do not recall how well you read these, at least you were exposed to them.