Another year, another assigned book that next to no one reads, or enjoys. Every year students at San Luis Obispo High school are required to read four to five books a year. A lot of students find this slog of literature too much and just sparknote instead. To counteract this trend, I think the school should supply a choice of literature instead of just one concrete option.
“I think that it would be very helpful to the students because they could pick something that actually interests them,” said sophomore Paige Lund when asked what effect a choice of books would have.
If students are given options then there is a far greater chance they will enjoy reading. For an example of how choice would help raise enjoyment of reading. For example, sophomore year many students read Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees. Some found this book enjoyable, but I am certain that some would have enjoyed the Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan more. Both novels are similar in theme, but are different in wording, setting, and characters. If students can choose a book they like, then they will relate to the book better, and they are going to want to analyze it more.
Like any change to curriculum, there going to be some obstacles to a new method. The first that might come to mind is that the English department might not have enough books that they are able to teach and discuss. This I find to be almost an insult to the teachers themselves. Any English teacher has probably read enough books to make a solid list for students to choose from.
Some could also point to the stumbling block of grading such a class. You would have to rely on short writing assignments instead of specialized tests to check if students are reading. This would be tough for a college preparatory class, but extra writing wouldn’t go amiss in an honors or AP level class.
Any downside to this idea does not justify denying students the opportunity to actually read and enjoy books of their choice. Literature can be fun, it just needs to be presented differently.