Summer Reading: High School
By Kathy Sweeney, now mother of two high school kids. Yikes.
This week, my son left the small enclave of his K-8 Catholic School. Many rejoiced, including me (and several of his teachers, I'm sure. Who knew these kids could get senioritis in 8th grade?). Time to turn the page. We just got his summer reading list, and it inspired me to ask all of you to help put together a good high school reading list for everyone. In case you didn't know it, our kids do most of their reading on the Net. Their textbooks are on there, and so is their homework. In my opinion, they don't spend enough time reading books.
And no, Ty, I do not count Manga as books. They were a godsend when we couldn't get you interested in reading anything, and they are very creative, what with the mixed media and so forth, but we are talking novels of the traditional, rather than graphic, kind. Admittedly, Watchmen is a masterpiece, but you've already read that one, so give up the argument.
Here are the books incoming freshman in Ty's class need to read:
"To Kill a Mockinbird" by Harper Lee
and one of the following:
"Friday Night Lights" by H.G. Bissinger
"Sunrise Over Fallujah" by Walter Dean Myers
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie
Let me say that, other than Harper Lee's magnum opus, I have not read any of these books. Hell, I haven't even seen the movie or the TV show. If any of you have, please let us know what you think.
"To Kill A Mockingbird" is perhaps my favorite book of all time. The book is so rich, that one can teach an entire class just on the use of idiom (I know because I did, the year it was the "One Community, One Book" choice). The lessons of humanity, justice, racism and courage are timeless. I love this book.
Kate, who will be a (gulp) senior next year, will be reading the following:
"Cyrano de Bergerac" by Edmond Rostand
"The Bride Price" by Buchi Emecheta
"The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde
Now THERE is a hootenanny of a lineup, huh? I for one will be watching Steve Martin's tour de force
. Oh Oscar, how you robbed him.
If I were a high school English teacher (God bless them - and a special shout out to Jack, Chris and the wonderful Mrs. Monroe) and I didn't end up in an asylum (kidding, in a way), I'd have a hard time choosing required summer reading. I mean - you want the books to be good, without being an albatrossian burden that will turn the kids off completely.
I could only come up with a few, and I'm looking to the rest of you to add to the list. Since we have so many writers, readers and teachers here at TLC, I'm excited to see what pops up.
"The Good Earth
" by Pearl S. Buck - I chose this because it is one of the few books I remember reading in high school. Which means it made an impact. Plus, there is that whole 'giving birth in the rice fields' thing,
"Romeo And Juliet" by William Shakespeare - because everyone should read Shakespeare and I think this one is the easiest. But - the best way to learn Shakespeare is to see it in its natural habitat - on stage. If you have a local company, take your kids. If not, the best movie adaptation for high school kids is "Romeo + Juliet" - wherein DiCaprio, Danes, Leguizamo, Perrineau, Sorvino and Dennehy chew up the scenery old school iambic-pentameter style.
"Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs
" That's right. Because, as everyone knows, it's hard to write funny, and he is a master. Plus - he was a newspaper writer - a dying art. But most importantly, I have never given anyone this book who didn't laugh out loud. Kids need to know that words on a page have the same power as a goof on a stage.
Okay - I have left the field wide open for your suggestions. Let's hear them!