The specter of World Battle II, with its themes of totalitarianism, social fragmentation, mass surveillance, and the decline of particular person freedom, looms over most of the novels. Dystopian novels type a significant class: Orwell’s Animal Farm, William Golding’s allegory The Lord of the Flies, Aldous Huxley’s Courageous New World, Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist comedy Slaughterhouse-5, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Story, and McCarthy’s The Highway be part of Nineteen Eighty-4 right here. Pondering again on my days as a highschool English trainer, it seems like I missed a possibility to show dystopia as a theme. There’s a wealth of fabric to attract from—and it’s each top quality and accessible to a broad vary of highschool readers.
A recurring pedagogical situation emerged as lecturers joined the dialog: How ought to educators stability difficult books—works by Shakespeare, for instance—with the scholars’ want for alternative? How can lecturers guarantee wealthy, shared studying alternatives with out placing their college students off studying perpetually? These aren’t idle issues. In case your aim is to nurture a lifelong love of studying, a dogmatic reliance on the classics seems to be catastrophic.
You’ll be able to learn some devastating scholar suggestions about choice-less school rooms within the Edutopia publish “Begin a Studying Revolution.” And as literacy educator Kelly Gallagher, the writer of Readicide, not too long ago tweeted: “For the third 12 months in a row, 90%+ of my seniors have admitted they’ve faux learn their strategy to the twelfth grade. Faculties should change!” I requested the same query of my freshmen English courses a few years in the past, and acquired the identical dispiriting response. Nearly none of my incoming freshmen had completed a e-book within the earlier three years. For an method to balancing scholar alternative with curated texts, learn Brian Sztabnik’s latest Edutopia publish “Igniting a Ardour for Studying.”
The Record of Indispensable Books
1. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee’s seminal coming-of-age story set within the fictional southern city of Maycomb, Alabama. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: racial injustice, ethical and religious development, braveness and integrity, innocence and expertise.
2. Nineteen Eighty-4 George Orwell’s imaginative and prescient of a totalitarian future, not lengthy after the Atomic Wars have decreased the geopolitical map to 3 superstates: Eurasia, Oceania, and Eastasia. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: totalitarianism and state energy, surveillance, particular person freedom, the character of fact, the facility of propaganda.
3. Lord of the Flies William Golding’s story of kid castaways who set up a violent social order on a abandoned island. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: civilization and governance, social and ethical order, savagery and primitivism, cruelty, management, injustice.
4. Animal Farm George Orwell’s allegory tracing the formation of Soviet Russia. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: totalitarianism and state energy, particular person freedom, the mutability of historic fact, the facility of propaganda, the cult of character.
5. Catcher within the Rye The reclusive J.D. Salinger’s hottest novel, instructed by means of the eyes of the notoriously irreverent teenager Holden Caulfield. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: unreliable narrators, individuality and id, social alienation and rebel, social mores and guidelines.
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6. The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck’s Melancholy-era basic, which follows the travels of impoverished Mud Bowl refugees as they flee westward to California. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: wealth and poverty, injustice, social and political coverage and governance, biblical themes resembling judgment and redemption.
7. Invisible Man Ralph Ellison’s meditation on the results of race, instructed from the angle of an African American narrator rendered invisible by his pores and skin coloration. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: race and racial injustice, id, ideology and perception techniques.
8. The Alchemist Paulo Coelho’s story of a Spanish shepherd who hopes to seek out his future on a journey to Egypt. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: journey and braveness, hope, future.
9. Slaughterhouse-5 Kurt Vonnegut’s darkish, absurdist comedy centered on the devastating firebombing of Dresden, Germany, throughout World Battle II. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: nonlinear narratives, unreliable narrators, existentialism and absurdism, the true nature of warfare.
10. The Handmaid’s Story Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel depicting the rise, in america, of a theocratic authorities devoted to the oppression of girls. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: totalitarianism, patriarchy and misogyny, surveillance, politics and governance, gender roles.
11. The Nice Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald’s lyrical, Jazz Age novel concerning the idealist James Gatsby—and the character of the American Dream. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: the Jazz Age, the American Dream, wealth and sophistication, idealism.
12. The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison’s story of Pecola Breedlove, a younger, often-abused African American woman who goals of getting blue eyes—a tangible signal of acceptance in a world dominated by white conceptions of magnificence and belonging. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: id, race and racial injustice, the results of abuse, magnificence and ugliness, madness.
13. Of Mice and Males John Steinbeck’s story of an unlikely—and tragically fated—friendship between two males of remarkably totally different mental skills. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: friendship and loyalty, character, cruelty and mercy.
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14. Macbeth Shakespeare’s portrait of an formidable Scottish warrior who desires to be king—and is goaded to homicide to realize his aim. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: the character of evil, energy and ambition, madness, chaos and dysfunction.
15. Courageous New World Aldous Huxley’s slim novel envisioning a future “utopia” with perverse qualities—because the human race succumbs to overdoses of delight, amusement, and hedonism. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: genetic manipulation, state energy, drug use, individualism and society.
16. The Highway Cormac McCarthy’s bleak novel a couple of boy and his father searching for security in a post-apocalyptic world. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: good and evil, dying, apocalypse, cruelty, hope and hopelessness.
17. Their Eyes Have been Watching God Zora Neale Hurston’s closely vernacular novel depicting the lifetime of Janie Crawford, an African American girl within the Jim Crow South on the flip of the twentieth century. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: gender roles, race and racial injustice, the results of abuse, the illustration of American dialects, the character of affection.
18. The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky’s epistolary, coming-of-age novel about an introverted, emotionally scarred highschool freshman named Charlie. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: introverts and extroverts, teen romance, alcohol and drug use, the results of abuse.
19. Persepolis Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel, an autobiography that describes rising up in Tehran, Iran, throughout the period of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: graphic novels, Iranian tradition, politics and faith, battle.
20. Night time Elie Wiesel’s spare memoir-novel primarily based on his experiences in focus camps throughout the Holocaust. Main themes of curiosity to excessive schoolers: good and evil, the Holocaust, religion and faithlessness, the Jewish expertise.
Please be at liberty to counsel extra indispensable highschool reads—we’d love so as to add to the listing. In any case, extra alternative can solely help lecturers engaged within the important, unending work of serving to college students grasp literacy. And tell us if we should always begin lists for elementary and center faculty too . . .The writer of this text is the chief content material officer at Edutopia. You’ll be able to comply with him on Twitter @smerrill777.
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