Posts Tagged ‘children should be taught literary classics in school’

The Call to Stop Kids From Reading Books they Actually Enjoy

October 7, 2013

The Hunger Games

At a time when just getting kids to read a book is the stuff of small miracles, why would anyone want to make books less accessible to children. I am sure The Hunger Games will never go down a classic of literature but I really don’t care. The objective of books is to entertain, inspire and transport its readers to distant places, cultures, traditions and experiences.  If the children of the day find that The Hunger Games achieves this goal then its up to us, the educators, to get in touch with them rather than the other way around.

I am a literature major at University. I studies every period of literature dating back from Chaucer onwards. And guess what? I find many so-called classics to be utterly tedious. My tutor was gobsmacked when I told him that I found Robinson Crusoe boring.

“How can you not like Robinson Crusoe? It is the most printed book behind the bible!”

His argument didn’t wash. I am never going to like a book just because it is deemed a classic or it has had multiple reprints.

And the same goes with Shakespeare. People are aghast when I say that Shakespeare should not be a compulsory fixture in the high school curriculum. How many people that strongly believe in studying Shakespeare in High School have a copy of one of his plays on their bedside table? How many of them are ever likely to read Macbeth or Hamlet for pleasure? When is the last time you ever had a deep urge to reread The Tempest?

We are hypocrites if we subject children to the types of books we are glad we no longer have to read ourselves. If we are ever going to get children to read we must employ the same criteria for reading as we have when we search for a book. Our students must find the subject matter topical, interesting, amusing, dramatic and most of all – ENTERTAINING:

Joanna Trollope says children should be taught literary classics in school because they spend too much time reading fantasy books, such as The Twilight Saga. 

The novelist said fantasy teen fiction, such as the hugely popular Hunger Games series, fails to give children an insight into reality or guidance in moral dilemmas. 

The Rector’s Wife author said youngsters should be encouraged to read the likes of Jane Austen, George Eliot and the Bronte sisters.

However, she admitted her 12-year-old grandson loves The Hunger Games, about a post-apocalyptic nation in which two children are selected to compete to the death in an annual televised battle.

Trollope told The Sunday Times: ‘I feel children are missing out on an enormous amount.

‘The consolation to be found in the classics is absolutely infinite and greater than fantasy novels. Fantasy doesn’t relate to the real world.’

The author, who used to be a teacher, said using popular culture can be a useful tool to lead children towards the classics.

She said she gave her class The Beatles lyrics to study in one English poetry class before giving them Robert Frost to read.

Last year, the three Hunger Games books were in the top 10 bestsellers list with more than 2.1million sold.

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