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Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Discussion: Best Book You Ever Read For School

My daughter has her first summer reading assignment ever.  She had to read a memoir and now has a series of essays and poems to write in relation to it.  Now, she loves to read (no shock there), but for the first time ever, she has been forced to finish a book she was not enjoying. [She has no trouble abandoning a book she is not into.] It is not that she hated the book, but it was not a book she would choose to read for fun. [I am purposeful leaving the title out since I do not want to prejudice others to this book, plus the title is not pertinent here.]

We had to have the talk about how soon she will have to read more for assignments and less for fun.  I am privately mourning this transition for her, but I too went through it and came out the other side still an avid reader. I figure being honest with her about the "have to" reads while still encouraging reading for fun as a recreational option will lessen the pain in the years to come.

While trying to put a good face on the entire situation, I shared with her tales the books I would have never read without having them assigned-- books I still count as among the favorites I have ever read.

After talking to her about those books I still remember fondly, I realized it would make a great Monday Discussion.  We did a version of this a few years ago, but I thought it would be worth revisiting it.  So here are the books I mentioned to her:

For the record, I have a much longer list of books I wish I had never even opened, but had to read for school. I'm looking at you Jude the Obscure. Yuck! Still to this day, the worst book I ever read. No contest.


Now it's your turn.  Tell me the books you hold dear in your heart, books you never would have read except for the fact that you were "forced to." And if you need to vent [as I obviously did], throw in a stinker or two.  But more loves than hates here; in the spirit of encouraging my daughter.

For past Monday Discussions click here.

Postscript: In case you were wondering,  she did finish the book in the week she scheduled herself to read it, and has answered the short response question already. School doesn't begin for 4 weeks from tomorrow, so thankfully she will still have time to read a few more books for pure pleasure before sixth grade begins.

9 comments:

Christi said...

I really enjoyed most of the books I had to read for school. Especially in middle school. Some of my ultimate favorites:

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair


On the other hand, I didn't really like reading The Odyssey, which really bummed me out. I loved the story and in middle school our teacher read us the Iliad and I loved it. I think its better read aloud and I think that's when I discovered that in general, I don't really like reading translations, especially for school, because instead of keeping the feel and the poetry of the words selected by the author, meaning alone tends to be most important. But in general, English was still always my favorite class because my homework was reading stories. I read a lot of great books that way and I think it made me fall in love with reading even more.

Elizabeth said...

I loved To Kill A Mockingbird when I read it my freshmen year of high school. I remember being very engrossed and I probably would not have read it if it were not required reading.

I also remember HATING Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms in high school, but then I went to college and studied his short fiction with a professor who was better suited to teach the material and I actually loved the experience.

John BPL RA said...

I hate to say it, but I never had a single book assigned to me in school that I enjoyed. There were none that were even close. Most I just gave up on.
That said, there were a surprising number of books that I enjoyed AFTER THE FACT - years later in many cases. That list includes The Outsiders by S.E.Hinton, A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway, The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer and several Shakespeare plays, my favorite being Romeo and Juliet. I've always been puzzled by decisions made by educators when it comes to assigned reading lists. They seem to defy basic logic. How could high school students ever relate to Hemingway? How could someone fresh out of fifth grade ever relate to or even understand S.E. Hinton? My suspicion is that they base these assignments on vocabulary/reading level rather than on content.

Anonymous said...

I really did not liked being forced to read any book, since my mother gave me reading autonomy from an early age. I particularly loathed Heart of Darkness, which I was forced to skim (I could not bring myself to finish it) in 10th or 11th grade. On the other hand, Candide, which was 10th grade also, was really funny and my first introduction to satire. I read Anna Karenina of my own volition and enjoyed it immensely.

Becky said...

Hey Anonymous, I have to say I HAD to read Anna Karenina and it still ranks as one of the WORST books I have ever read. I hate books where women give up and kill themselves at the end. It undermines everything else that happened in the novel. There is always another options. But, your opinion that it is great is much more in the majority. Thanks for sharing.

Becky said...

John you make an excellent point on matching the reading level with the content. I think that is a huge problem with many required reading lists.

CrystalV said...

In college I took a World Literature course and my professor had a knack for picking out really interesting books. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan really stuck a chord with me. I have re-read this book a few times since that class and each time I discover something new. Other than this title I have not encountered a book that I really enjoyed when it was on a required reading list.
-Crystal

CrystalV said...

In college a took a World Lit. course and my professor had a knack for picking out really interesting books for our required reading. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan was a title that really stuck with me. I often revisit this book and come away with a new understanding. Besides this title I can't think of a single book I enjoyed reading when I was required to.

Irishmaineiac said...

Discussions like this always intrigue me because I don't remember reading that much in school. I think we read mostly out of anthologies. especially in Catholic grammar school. I remember reading Ivanhoe, Romeo and Juliet, and Ethan Frome. I also remember having to do a few book reports and concentrating on research and vocabulary my junior year in high school. I did a lot of pleasure reading but nothing of substance.

We were given a list of 100 books to read before college at the end of senior year. Hmmmmmm.....why did they wait? I've always felt cheated and challenged because I missed reading so many wonderful books when it was prime time to read them.