With the end of the school year approaching it may seem like an odd time to be thinking about what the required reading novels will be next year. But we recently had to fill out course selection sheets for all three kids, and the same questions always comes up. Do we let our kids sign up for preAP English knowing that the reading selections will be more “challenging”? Because in effect we have found what it really means is that the novels will be more disturbing.
And that’s what I mean by required reading being depressing. Not as in “the assignment is overwhelming,” because my kids love to read, but as in “the books themselves are depressing.”
For our son, it’s an easier decision. He loves to read and he’ll write essays three times the length required – for history. So even though he knows it’s hurting his cumulative GPA, for him, it’s not worth it. For our daughters it’s a different matter. They both excel at writing and get frustrated by students in the regular level classes who disrupt the class (horrendously.) But, while our older daughter has learned to toughen some as a reader, our younger one is still very sensitive.
So I read a lot of their required reading, which is difficult for me.
Because I’m a very sensitive reader.
I admit it. Just call me the canary in the coal mine. And I will fully own up to it and acknowledge that I’m not going to love every book my kids are assigned.
But I want to talk about the fact that THERE’S OFTEN NO VARIETY IN REQUIRED READING.
I asked our older daughter, the tougher one, recently about what she’d read in the 7th grade and what she thought about it. And then I asked:
Could you describe anything that you were required to read as happy?
How about even generally uplifting?
Let’s just forget about funny. We didn’t even get close to it.
I went in to talk to her English teacher about this and as I asked those questions her face fell. Because this is a genuinely caring teacher who loves reading – a wonderful teacher who our daughter has enjoyed immensely – and she hadn’t thought about that.
So that’s all I’m asking you to do, is think about it. Because it seems that required reading is ignoring at least half of what’s out there. And if you look at the rates of depression, tweens and teens could use some happy things to think about.
If you’re thinking that kids need to read books about depressing situations to learn to cope with them, there’s an interesting post over on the Nerdy Book Club this week related to books helping you through times of grief: Saved by Summer Reading by Alan Silberberg
And still, we get back to the issue of variety. How about some happy books?
What about you? Do you love what your kid is being assigned as required reading?