I thought I’d bring this to the blogosphere. Maybe someone has some ideas out there.
Many books in the “canon” (particularly for juniors) are boring as hell, when you’re a high schooler. However, they are classics! They are wonderful books that speak to the human condition, inspire nostalgia, expose travesties and are eloquently written. These points are lost on a generation that has grown up in a time when MTV hardly ever plays music videos and text messaging is the preferred form of communication. These children/students don’t identify with the characters and situations in such wonderful books as My Antonia, Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc.
My quandary is this: 1) I think these are important books and students NEED to be exposed to them. They need to read them, know them, etc. But, 2) I want students to enjoy what they read and to become readers. Avid readers — readers who devour books — are my dream. I fear that the choices we offer as a school district for 1 does not go along with 2. So, what do we as teachers do? We’re trying to offer books that appeal more to students, but like most districts/schools, my hands are tied by the approved book list AND a lack of funds to dramatically add to the list. Yet, choices must be tempered with the ideals of what is appropriate for a school text. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Frye? Frye?
Note: the junior year (American Lit) is the year that I think is most lacking. Our themes for the year go by quarters: Freedom, Struggle and Persecution, Movements and Justice, and The American Dream and Disillusionment. Books, poems, non-fiction, short stories, and essays must fit into one of those themes. It’s hard to find any novels (particularly YA novels) that fit the freedom theme and are written by American authors. Any help is appreciated.