Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: books I think should be taught in schools

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic that the participants come up with a top ten list for.

This week's topic is either top ten contemporary books that would be great paired with a required reading book (e.g. Catcher in the Rye with Perks of being a Wallflower) OR top ten books we wish were taught in schools

I am listing books I think would be great taught in schools because I simply don't know what's required reading for Americans/UK citizens. I'm also trying to limit myself to new-ish books because I guess the Classics are usually taught and I think this is about highlighting books that are not taught but should be?

In no particular order...

John Green - Looking For Alaska
This is the only Green books I've read so far but I enjoyed it a lot! It poses a lot of big questions but it's still very much a teen book, with authentic voice and a fairly realistic depiction of boarding school life and the kind of stuff teens get up to. It would certainly provide plenty of stuff for class discussion (drugs, alcohol, sex, sticking together vs ratting)

Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
I think a lot of schools might teach Anne Frank's Diary but The Book Thief would also be a great choice when it comes to talking about World War Two. It has a very broad perspective, it's humorous as well as serious and it discusses the persecution of more groups than just the Jews.

Douglas Coupland - Generation X
This is a wonderful book about the power of stories as well as about how we work ourselves to the bone for nearly nothing - overeducated and underemployed. It really makes you think about your own life!

Gayle Forman - If I Stay
It's such a powerful book and it asks so many hard questions!

Laurie Halse Anderson - Speak / Wintergirls
I've only read Wintergirls and I don't know if that one would be very good for class discussion (some of the things that might be said could have negative effects on girls who already have an eating disorder) but I know that Speak is about date rape, and I think that's a topic that should definitely be discussed openly! There are WAY too many people who still think there is such a thing as 'asking for it'.  - BS.

Trish Cook & Brian Halpin - Notes from the Blender
First of all, Notes is so much fun! Second, it tackles a lot of teen problems like patchwork families, crazy hormones, depression. Also, it has a male and a female POV so both 'parts' of the class would have someone to identify with (you know, if they still think that guys can't identify with girl characters and vice versa).

Susanna Kaysen - Girl, Interrupted
I admit I've only seen the movie, but I found it very powerful!

Generally, I think that is should be books about characters who deal with real problems such as families broken by divorce, bullying, questioning beliefs, and topics like depression and suicide. I don't think teens need to be shielded from that - many live with these things on a day to day basis, others could profit from gaining some perspective on these issues. I think the books should also feature characters from different ethnic backgrounds and LGBT characters. Seeing the way such characters are portrayed in books might help to do away with prejudice.
Or maybe I'm just way too optimistic *shrug*
What do you think of my picks? Anything you think is glaringly missing or absolutely unsuitable?


  1. Good list, Looking for Alaska made my list as well and I also love The Book Thief and agree that both would be good books for schools to teach.

  2. Hmmm...Notes from the Blender is new-to-me. Thank you.

    Here are my thoughts on the Best Required Reading!

  3. You are definitely not too optimistic. I'd love to see more books that feature diversity - and written by diverse authors - ethnicities & countries.

    Tanya Patrice

  4. I definitely think Speak and Wintergirls are important choices. I also really think The Book Thief is incredibly powerful.

  5. I haven't seen anyone else pick Girl, Interrupted yet! Yay for not being alone! You should definitely read the book - there is less of it than there is in the film, but I enjoyed it.

    Happy Tuesday!
    My TTT

  6. Can't wait for the The Book Thief movie. :) hopefully it'll be good!

  7. I thought about making a list of (contemporary) books that should be taught in schools, but wasn't sure what to put on it.

    I'm not a huge fan of Gayle Forman/If I Stay, but I've to agree it's definitely a discussion-worthy book. And yes, required/recommended texts "should also feature characters from different ethnic backgrounds and LGBT characters." Let's be optimistic together! *smile*