Top Ten Tuesday: Required Reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted each week by the lovely bloggers over at The Broke and the bookish. This week’s topic is the top ten

Books You Wish Were Taught in High School

Nerdish confession: I liked nearly all the books I was required to read in high school. Nearly all. I’m looking at you, Dostoyevsky. You, too, Joyce.

My main concern with required reading in high school is that I know I, personally, lacked to knowledge to really understand and appreciate some of the books. Sure, I could give you a spotless literary critique of Beloved or Their Eyes Were Watching God, but I did not have the understanding of institutional inequities that is such a big part of reading many books. So, along with the following books to be taught in chool, I am waving a magic wand and gifting my students with a critical understanding of history. `*`*fairy dust*`*` I’m also adding a couple non-fiction books, any of which would be a great addition to a history or other class.

Orlando, Virginia Woolf. Gender, sexuality, science fiction, oh my! (my review)

Brother, I’m Dying, Edwidge Danticat. Memoir about growing up in Haiti and the US. Terror in the Tonton Macoutes, and the US immigration system. (my review)

A Mercy, Toni Morrison. The infant days of this country.  (my review)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot. Medical research and the exploitation of vulnerable populations.

The Hanging of Angelique, Afua Cooper. Canada was not the runaway slave haven US textbooks made it out to be. (my review)

A Happy Man, Hansjörg Schertenleib. It’s short! That alone should make kids love it. (my review)

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood. High schoolers love a good dystopia, right?

Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates. Could be interesting to read in conjunction with The Handmaid’s Tale, especially the focus on children and pregnancy.

The North of God, Steve Stern. Another novella, would be a worthy addition to a Holocaust unit. (my review)

Assata, Assata Shakur. Ok, I know there is no way in hell this is being taught in school, what with her face plastered on Most Wanted billboards in New Jersey, but a girl can dream. (my review)

Most Wanted Billboard for Assata Shakur

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7 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Required Reading

  1. Ah I agree with this so much! While I’ve not read many of these novels (ok I’ve only read The Handmaiden’s Tale which is one of my favourite novels of all time) I have to tell you the state of American history classes is abominable (and no I don’t mean American history, I mean history classes in America). I didn’t even know there WAS a Korean war until college, wouldn’t have known about Vietnam except for its prevalence in pop culture, didn’t know about the first Gulf war until the second (and I LIVED during the first one!), and we didn’t even cover much of the World Wars! Thanks a lot high school history.

    • I actually taught World History for two years, and I felt so woefully under prepared to do so. There’s just so little time to cover SO MUCH STUFF. I did have my Korean vet Grandfather come talk to my classes, so my students better know there was a Korean war 🙂

  2. You’re so right that high schoolers have a difficult time grasping much of what is considered required reading, but I love that your list doesn’t just sub shallow, low level texts in their place. How great would it be if our students could all read Henrietta Lacks? Getting in non-fiction and that important story – I love that choice!

  3. I just discovered Edwidge Danticat this summer at the Harlem Book Fair. And I’m kind of obsessed with her. I’ve read 2 of her novels since July and I’m about to start a 3rd by her tonight. I’ll purchase her newest release which came out last month and I’m about to check out your review on her memoir. I think it would be interesting to compare it to her fiction work.

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