It seems that the school reading lists teachers have given their students since time immemorial seem to have remained relatively unchanged. It is easy to see why: classic books are timeless, and modern books must also pass the same test before they can be included in the classics list.
This is not enough for today’s school librarians. These self-proclaimed heroes, who are quick to anger parents when they don’t want certain books for their children, have decided that some classics that students have enjoyed for years don’t belong on school reading list.
School Library Journal joined forces with the National Council of Teachers of English in order to ask school librarians which books should be added to their reading lists.
This list contains some of the most common targets for the left. Number one? To Kill A Mockingbird. This is right: librarians believe Harper Lee’s Southern literary classic should be on the top of the reading list. It’s problematic because it takes place in pre-Civil Rights South. We can’t allow kids to read stuff like this if it portrays all white people as racist oppressors.
It’s funny that To Kill a Mockingbird topped another list, PBS’ 2014 survey on Americans’ most-loved novels. According to my count, twelve of the books librarians have fought for made it onto that list.
The Great Gatsby’s works, Little House on the Prairie and Catcher in the Rye are just a few of the other classics on the list. I’m fine with memory-holing the last one — it was an awful book!
It is reasonable to expect some resistance to the titles that the left claims are racist for many years. It’s not surprising that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are on the list. Little House on the Prairie, however, isn’t as politically correct. However, this doesn’t mean students shouldn’t be able to learn from them.
The funny thing about this list? Some of these books are there because librarians think that they are boring. I still remember struggling through Great Expectations in 9th Grade and The Great Gatsby 10th Grade. Although I didn’t like them both at the time I came to appreciate them and understand why they are so important and classic. The truth is that reading shouldn’t be boring. However, it can be a lot of fun. Students might benefit from learning this when they are young.
These librarians are naturally looking to replace classics with modern books. Many of these titles, including I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, make it onto the list. This list is predictable.
One teacher said that she believes kids can learn the same lessons even if they are reading less-tested, modern books.
She suggests Sanctuary by Paola Menedoza and Abby Sher instead of 1984. It follows a young girl with her undocumented family, in an America not too distant from present day, where all citizens can be tracked using a chip. She says the plot is Orwellian, and she calls it “big brother”, but also discusses immigration in the future.
Yes, I do think illegal immigration is fun.
Not all teachers are interested in adding the latest, most popular, and most woke titles right away. School Library Journal was told by a teacher at a private Christian school that she prefers books that have lasted the test of time.
“[Kimberly] Davis prefers books that are’verified’ in quality that help students recognize the commonalities across humanity, time and cultures. Davis believes there is value in reading classic texts about historical societies and cultures.
Davis also mentioned that she provides her students with a wider selection of books so they have some control over what they read and learn. That’s fine.
Why should we take away some things? Instead of removing some things, why not expand the list and give students more options to expand their horizons?