In honor of Banned Books Week I have a small rant. Just some of my own opinions and thoughts on reading in school. Please keep in mind that these are my opinions formed from my own experiences in a small town school in the heart of the bible belt.
I loathed reading until I was in middle school. For years I thought it was because I just didn’t comprehend the books in less someone was reading it too me. I’ve come to realize now that my problem wasn’t understanding it was interest. I was never encouraged to read something I would find interesting. Until sixth grade. When we read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. That book is where I found my love of reading. My love that is still growing every day. I have The Outsiders to thank for that and coincidentally it is a very challenged book. It was the first book I had ever read that was real.
Isn’t that what all banned books are? Real? Sure they might have some elements of fantasy, but they still have aspects that are way too real for some people. They have original thought. They have open minds. That scares some people, I guess. I’m the exact opposite. How did I end up that way growing up somewhere where the English teacher can’t use Twilight in her lessons because parents will get angry.
True story: My 9th grade English teacher gets her hair done at the salon I work at, so every six weeks we chat about books. We were talking about Twilight and she said that she can’t use it in any of her lessons because parents would pitch a huge fit! This saddens me to no end! How are teens supposed to find a love of reading or the English language when they can’t read books that appeal to them!
I find Shakespeare dreadfully boring. Drooling on my desk, claw my eyes out boring! Same with Mark Twain! (another challenged/banned author) but I was made to read the authors over and over again every year. You want to get some teens interested in your class? Hand them a copy of The Hunger Games. A little too extreme for you? Let them read Twilight, Shiver, something that appeals to them! My high school library had zero books like that. None! My city library barley has a copy of Twilight. Such is the curse of living in the bible belt.
I’m going to go one step farther and say that I think Crank by Ellen Hopkins should be required reading in every high school. If there was ever anything that was going to make a teen not do drugs it would be this book! I know that will never happen. Not where I live, but one can dream.
Annnywaaay, I have no idea if any of this has made sense. My point is that people/teens should be allowed to read what they want, of course. I’m sure if you are reading this you feel the same way!