Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books You Wish Were Taught in Schools

(Click the image above to see the lovely hosts over at The Broke and The Bookish!)

It's kind of obvious how much I am an advocate for literacy - I mean, all things considered I do run this tiny spot on the internet talking about reading and books. When I found out what the TTT was for today, I jumped on board automatically. Reading is so important in schools but the worst is the attitude that's geared towards required reading. I honestly thought To Kill a Mockingbird and Animal Farm were great reads but not every student agreed with me. Sometimes I think we need to not just teach about why pieces of literature are so relevant to us but something that should be taught is how to enjoy a good book. Which brings us to this TTT. I tried to choose books that I felt that was relevant to coming-of-age, politics and social commentary, but I also tried to choose books that were not only thought-provoking but enjoyable as well.

So in no particular order...

Holes - by Louis Sachar : I read this when I was younger and as an adult, I can see the relevancy of the tale to a young mind. A story about crime, about racial discrimination, and even friendship. It's predominant role in schools is also about how history affects the present day with displaying themes of social injustice.

Never Let Me Go - by Kazuo Ishiguro : This is a book that's a love story, so perhaps it won't reach all demographics in a school setting but the message is clear - people are cloning themselves to harvest organs to live longer lives. How is that not relevant to our modern day? It questions the ethics of science, teaches us about the social alienation of specific groups, and of course, it's an interesting read... haunting, even.
World War Z - by Max Brooks : I bet you didn't even see this one coming from a mile away. The kids and adults will love this one - ZOMBIES! But more than that... this book is well composed of cultural divides, war, and personal, social and worldwide conflict. Imagine if this book didn't have zombies... I'm sure the results would be similar to what Max Brooks portrays in this novel if something else where to cause tension between countries.
A Thousand Splendid Suns - By Khaled Hosseini : I read this book earlier this year and was so moved by it and think that especially during these times, it would be one of the most relevant books to learn. This book would teach about religion, culture, domestic violence, the sacrifices of motherhood, and political uprises and downfalls. It's important for any student to know what goes on outside of the box of what they see in the media and think independently, something that this book will help them look into.
Ender's Game - By Orson Scott Card : So... OSC isn't the greatest role model there is considering how he's kind of crazy and anti-LGBT and so on. That aside, Ender's Game still delivers an incredible story, a great message about what is good, what is evil and presents a great portrayal about politics in the Internet-age. There is a lot about what it means to be child, or rather, what it's like to a be an adult when you're still just a kid. 
Oryx and Crake - By Margaret Atwood : The things that happen in this novel... it's like a foreshadow of what could possibly happen to our future. Like Never Let Me Go, it talks about the ethical practices of science and how far is too far. A great book to learn about actions and consequences, about power and the damaging effects of what we are capable of.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - By Stephen Chbosky : A well-known YA book that I feel was incredibly relatable to me as a youth. Dealing with my first steps into high school and the underlying problems with growing up, personal issues and friendships, this is a teen book that should be required for a health class. It's important for students to know that the problems they deal with, they aren't alone in and if they could relate to a book, they could relate to someone in their life and get any help they need for any issues they have.
Maus - by Art Spiegelman : Okay, it's actually already being taught in some schools for either Social Studies or English courses, but I figure there isn't any harm in advocating this some more. Maus is a brilliant graphic novel about the author's father's survival during the Holocaust in Europe. Not just that though, but it touches on the relationship that Spiegelman also has with his father. There is tragedy, humor, allegory, symbolism... honestly a great addition to some of our classrooms.

Unfortunately, I could only think of these 8, but my mind is open for 2 more books that I could add to the collection of books that I hope students could possibly study. I want books to change lives, inspire and for people to enjoy books that make them really think and impact them.


  1. I have WW Z on my list too - because we all need some tips on surviving a zombie apocalypse :-)

    1. Zombie Survival Guide should be learned from grade 1 and up... y'know... for reasons.