I read an interesting article this morning about what books are being taught in schools. I know when i was at school we were set such old books they held no merit in my mind. One that stands out was On the Road. This has now been made into a movie which concerns me as it was the dumbest excuse for literature i have ever had the miss fortune to almost read. Let me put it this way, we were set an essay on it for our final exam. I only actually read the first three chapters or so, i got an A on my essay. The book was literally just following a dood around as he picked fruit for a living. That was it. I have no idea why this was set to our class and hope i never see it again. On the other hand in primary school we were lucky enough to be read a book by the librarian which i still remember to this day. The Silver Sword. It was about some kids in a war. It was gritty, it dealt with the realities of the situation while still being relate-able to us at the time, even when we were young.
So what was the difference between these two books? Well on the road was chosen because it had won awards and was considered ‘literary’ where as the silver sword was chosen because they thought we would enjoy reading it. Now tell me which one you would rather study and grow your kids love of reading? Frankly we were set several other boring as brick books in my school years and they were so rich in classic literature that i cant even remember their titles. I obviously learnt something from them…
But the article i read this morning touched on the fact that apparently books today are chosen because they teach students about real world issues. Well i hate to say it but all books do that. Even the most rich fantasy book will deal with real world issues, bravery, friendship, sex, death. So should we be setting books that are gritty and deep or books that will grow our kids love of reading? I agree that the classics have a place, but lets not look at the deep and meaningfuls, lets look at the popular ones instead. Anne of green gables, Lord of the Rings, the Great Gatsby, heck set the Di Vinci Code and i promise the kids will look up those famous paintings and artists and actually learn something. I mean To kill a mocking bird is still a text book, surely they can find a more recent text that deals with the same issues? (Frankly I only got two chapters into it too) Just because its old doesn’t mean its good. So lets review the why of school books and start setting things kids will want to read and study.
Did you have a fave books set at school?