Welcome to my Let’s Talk Bookish post. Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @eternitybooks, where we discuss chosen topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.
I haven’t done one of these in forever and honestly I’m so far behind that at this point I’m going to just continue to pick the topics that interest me until I complete them all and/or catch up.
This topic is talking about if required reading is a curse or a blessing. I swear that I already wrote this post, but maybe I just thought about it a lot because I can’t find it.
I personally feel like required reading is a double edged sword. I see the pros in required reading, but I also see the cons.
The Pros of required readings
**** It expands your horizons.
As narrow as a lot of required reading tends to be there have been some books that I was required to read that I probably wouldn’t have on my own that opened me up to new genres/stories. In my sophomore year of high school we had to read Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. It was a book about a native american man who is struggling through some stuff. It was written in a style I wasn’t use to, but one I enjoyed way more than I thought I would. Same with in my senior year when I read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, which is a book about a group of soldiers. I never would have read them on my own, but after I read them I was so glad that I did. Sometimes it’s nice to have your reading choices challenged.
**** Vocabulary/analysis building
I’m not sure if this has changed in recent years (I doubt it), but most books are written at a 5th grade reading level. That’s great because that means they’re easy to understand and enjoy. However, they’re not very helpful in building your vocabulary which some might not care about, but I think is at least a bit important. Also, some popular books aren’t that great when talking about literary analysis or larger conversations. Some, are, but I think a lot of required reading is chosen because they have a lot of meat on them that allows for lots of discussion and/or analysis. This is awesome because it builds are critical thinking and reasoning skills which I think would should all keep nice and sharp as we make our way through our lives.
The Cons of Required Readings
*** A Colonizer Bias
Many people have been talking about colonization and how it has affected our daily lives and also our education. Most required reading lets be honest are written by old, dead white guys or occasionally a white woman. Specifically when you’re talking about the classics. Shakespeare, Dickens, Thoreau, etc. It’s so Eurocentic it’s sad. I think those men did have interesting stories to tell, but I also believe that there are authors from other parts of the world who have just as valid of a contribution to make to the literary world. On the other hand, I think if we had more diverse required reading (and some schools do) I think it would be more valuable to education and literary discussion.
**** Building a dislike of reading
I think one of the greatest flaws of required reading is that it can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths about reading. If the only reading you do is required reading and you don’t enjoy what you’re reading I believe you start to think that all books aren’t for you. I remember hating Shakespeare and dreading the fact that I knew every year we would read another one of his plays. It didn’t stop me from loving to read, but it did make me enjoy my english class less. I think choice can be very powerful in creating a love of reading and I’m sad that so much time in classes can be taken up by a topic that no student even enjoys.
Well, those are my thoughts. They’re all over the place, but since I have such mixed feelings, but also am old enough that I no longer have required reading I’m probably not going to get more on point with my feelings. I’d love to read your thoughts on required required! What do you think? Good, bad, or somewhere in-between?