How did you react to assigned reading when you were in school/university/college/etc? How do you think on these books now? What book were you ‘forced’ to read when you were in school that you’ve since reread and loved?
An interesting question for an English teacher who assigns reading to her students on a daily basis. As far as my own experience, I have always enjoyed reading, so I didn’t mind when a teacher assigned me something to read. In fact, depending on the teacher, I sometimes asked them for recommendations. However, two books which meant a whole lot more to me as an adult were The Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird.
To Kill a Mockingbird I think I was just way too young the first time I read it. What I remembered from that book was the “strange” neighbor who left Scout and Jem treats in the tree. I sort of missed the whole racism, prejudice, and moral issues the novel presents. As an adult, this is one of my all time favorites. Atticus Finch, sigh. I would marry him in a heartbeat. I definitely appreciate his struggle to raise his children to know the difference between right and wrong and to see the good in all people much better as an adult than I did as a ten year old.
I think I read The Grapes of Wrath when I was in the seventh grade. All I remembered about this one was a really clear image of the Joads’ truck all loaded up with family members and their belongings. As an adult, I think this is one of the most beautiful novels ever written about the strength of the human spirit. I made this mistake a few years back of trying to teach this novel to high school sophomores. Lesson I learned was that this is a book that needs to be read on your own, when you are an adult. Only with some maturity do I think people can appreciate the beauty of the interchapters and the ultimate sacrifice by Rose of Sharon at the end.
I think the mistake that some teachers make is that we force the classics on students at too young of an age. We fail to help students connect to the text and we discredit the literature and the author’s intent when we do this. If I hadn’t been a reader, if I hadn’t had a copy of The Clan of the Cave Bear hidden inside my Grapes of Wrath, I would have been a much more tuned out middle-schooler.