Make way for modern books

Make way for modern books

Lindsey Paradis, Staff Writer

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go,” is a well known line from Dr. Seuss’ The Places You’ll Go. Despite this being a simplistic line from a children’s book, it is true that the more you read the more educated you become and the more doors open for you.

But why would students be drawn to reading when the LHS English department’s boring book requirements send them into a snore? I’m all for a classic, some of my favorite books are classics, but only 10 books out of the 41 on the department’s  book list are from this century. Out of these 10 books nine of them are for Honors and AP classes, leaving The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the only modern book read by regular English classes.

The writing of each generation usually relates to issues people are experiencing during that time period; therefore, if more contemporary books were taught students could relate and become more intrigued by the books  instead of simply powering up a computer and rummaging through Spark Notes. Also, teenagers relate to the struggles and stories of other teenagers, so why not include more books that have teenage protagonists?

Schools pick classics because of their timeless message. For example, Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, shows how the innocence of children can be destroyed. To Kill a Mockingbird , by Harper Lee, showcases equality. Lastly, Anthem, by Ayn Rand, and Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, show how a society with limited knowledge will become corrupted. The deeper messages in these stories are the reasons that  these books are  put on our school’s list.

But many contemporary books contain similar themes and will also challenge the mind. For example, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson, raises questions about sexism and violence against women. The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd,  not only depicts racism between whites and blacks but also addresses stereotypes.  Atonement , by Ian McEwan, is about the consequences of misunderstanding our youth, and The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins,  raises awareness on how society takes entertainment from the humility and suffering of others. All of these are themes that could be encountered in the dusty old books on the list, but there’s a more contemporary twist on the plot in these 21st century versions.

Reading improves writing skills because it helps one become more versed in technique, and no one I know my age is ever going to write like they are from hundreds of years ago, or even 50, so why not introduce them to a contemporary writing style they are going to use?

Now we can’t get rid of all the classics. Throw in some To Kill A Mockingbird,  Lord of the Flies, Twain, Catcher in the Rye, a tad of Dickens, and a pinch of Bronte and I can survive.

If contemporary authors are getting the job done by filling all the criteria of the classics, why not use them? If students are interested in novels from this century, why not use them? If they help kids advance in a writing style they use, why not use them? LHS and its students have taken advantage of all the  modern advances the 21st Century has offered. Why not give our reading selections a 21st century makeover?