Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Books That I Wish Were Taught in Schools

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is quite appropriate for the start of the school year! There are so many books that I wish were taught...

1. Forever by Judy Blume

Freshman or sophomore English class. Or Health. Just reading this book would be so much more useful than the Health class at my high school was. It realistically depicts the emotional and sexual unfolding of a teenage relationship.

2. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares

I'd recommend these for junior and senior classes, for similar reasons to above. These books very realistically depict teenage lives in high school and college. I also think that the writing would be an extremely good model for kids to write stories of their own.

3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

This book changed my life when I read it in a class (in college) and I think it's a particularly engaging and insightful book on issues from multiculturalism to poverty to nerd culture. Plenty of room for discussion on writing style and content.

4. Tripmaster Monkey by Maxine Hong Kingston

A classic at universities, it's equally worthy of injecting into the high school classroom, probably at a senior level, for a more nuanced look at racism and narrator reliability. Pairs well with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

5. Dune by Frank Herbert

The richness of the characters, worlds, and politics, not to mention environmental economics, all make Dune an enlightening as well as entertaining thought experiment. For a freshman or sophomore English or Biology class, and/or a Bioethics elective.

6. Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier

I feel like I promote this book for everything, but it would really be great for a junior English class. Parts of it would work well for a Photography class or a class focused on recent history. Besides being a culturally rich and slice-of-teen-life read, it is steeped in a particular historical moment; NYC's South Asian American community in the '90s.

7. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

What if there was a world where anyone could be either gender? I feel like this kind of read stimulates critical thinking and leads to productive questions about social paradigms that could lead to fantastic essays.

8. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

My friend and I were talking about how we learned as kids to please adults and peers and how instead we should have learned to balance others' needs with our own. Prep is an extreme example of what happens when you allow social pressures to rule your life. The intense self loathing and secretive loathing of others that the protagonist engages in haunts me to this day, and sophomore or junior English classes should teach students not to end up like Lee Fiora.

9. The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

Come on. Everyone needs to know more about vaginas and how our society feels about them. Plus, it's a play! Freshies, welcome to high school! (Maybe bump it up to sophomores if they're really giggly).

10. The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

I was debating which Amy Tan book to pick. Almost any of them would be great for cultural reasons, but this one has an especially rich historical component and leaves lots of questions about narrator reliability. Much better than The Joy Luck Club. For freshman or sophomore English class or World History class.

1 comment:

Biblibio said...

Huh. Dune would actually be a great high school read. It's enjoyable in its own right, but I can just see how a proper class discussion would enhance it so much.