School Assigned Books vs. Self-Chosen Books

Just imagine seeing these on your reading list for school *drool* (I would cry – A)


Instead of the typical, or maybe even along with #compromise


Being told to do something, whether it’s to fold the laundry or to just stop talking, is rarely received well.  So when a student is told to read a book, even if they happen to be a booklover, the assignment is a struggle because for some reason, english classes have decided to recycle the same set of novels over and over again.  I get it, they’re the classics.  I don’t dislike all of them, I’m a major fangirl for Jane Austen (Mr. Darcy raised my standards too high) and Shakespeare (s/o to my OTP Benedick and Beatrice), but the out-of-touch, droll plots get monotonous.  

My sophomore year, two of the books we had to read were The Awakening by Kate Chopin and Maggie Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane.  One was about a woman’s “sexual awakening” (can’t get any more interesting than that) and the other……..I still don’t know what the point was.  I get that some of these novels were controversial for the time they were printed and made an impact on society, which is great, but we have books being published now and within the last 20 years that are doing the same thing for our current society.  For example, my summer assigned read this year was I Am Malala and when I heard the news I was so incredibly relieved – I wouldn’t have to cram in an unengaging novel the week before school started.  The day I told myself I was going to start I Am Malala I got a package from B&N (naturally) and told my mom to hide the books until I had finished Malala.  Motivation at its finest.

Reading books that I have chosen myself is an easy task, I whip through them and avoid all social interaction.  Reading books that school has assigned is like trying to get through a mouthful of peanut butter, I drag my feet and reading ahead is not even a problem I have to dissuade myself from.  

AP English………here I come. *cowers*



School books are a hit or miss. Sometimes, it seems like a teacher is trying to punish the students. In fifth grade, I had to read The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and I fell. in. love. The writing drew you in and didn’t let you go. It was so whimsical with a slight bit of education. I had to read The Circuit: Stories from The Life of a Migrant Child, and I could not get into it. It didn’t hold my attention at all and it didn’t help that the narrator was boring (the teacher made us listen to it while we read). I also couldn’t get into Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney. I think I remember the book just being weird. I didn’t understand exactly what the point of it was, and I still don’t. My freshman year, I had to read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Ordinary People by Judith Guest, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare, and Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck. Ordinary People by Judith Guest was just depressing. I mean, it was an okay book, but I was surprised that they let us read it when everything is so monitored. I enjoyed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Romeo & Juliet, and Of Mice & Men. The other two were okay. Sophomore year, I switched schools. I had to read Lord of the Flies (yet again), Of Mice & Men (again) and Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Even though I didn’t mind reading the first two again, I wish I could have read other books. There are so many classics out there that I wanted to read. Julius Caesar was a very good play. I enjoyed listening to the audio of it while reading it in the text book. That’s all I have read so far for high school, since I’m entering my junior year this year. I’m taking a AP Lit class so I’m sure I’ll be reading many more books that I’ll either love or dislike with all of my being.

I think that required reading is mostly a good thing. It helps diversify my reading. I just wish every once in awhile, we could take a vote on which book. There are so many books that have come out in recent years that some students may need in their lives. I believe Katie McGarry’s books could hit home with some students. John Green’s books, Shannon Lee Alexander’s, Connor Franta’s, Julie Murphy’s, Nicola Yoon’s and many other authors’ books should be required reading. Isn’t the point to help educate kids and get them into reading? I’ve seen so many people be turned off of reading because the books they are required to read are a bore to them. A mix of classics and newer novels would help keep interest.

Anyway, that’s our thoughts on required reading at school. What are your thoughts?


Xx Sincerely,

Natalie and Anna


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