Dark Reading In Class

Recently there was some discussion about schools in the U.K.  preferring not to accept a collection of classic literature.  The debate about what sorts of literature is best used in schools seems never ending. I personally like to teach classical literature like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because I love it and know my enthusiasm for these books get my students enthusiastic too.  I also like teaching books that they’d not read on their own.  I’m careful to also have an independent reading strand going on in my classroom— the kids are required to read books of their own choice every evening for homework and often in school as well — so I don’t worry that I’m compromising their enjoyment by teaching classical books I love.

At the same time I’m sympathetic to those who have had miserable classroom experiences with classical literature.  To some degree my response to that is the problem is not the literature, but the teaching.  A terrible teacher will destroy the most relevant text just as a fantastic teacher can make even a mediocre work come alive.

I’m prompted to write this because of another Education Week article I just came across, “Dark Themes Get Kids Reading.”  Worthwhile reading as it provides more of teacher/educator perspective on this issue.


Filed under Reading, Teaching

3 responses to “Dark Reading In Class

  1. as a student who used to study literature, i must admit to an extent that literature exposes me to texts i would not otherwise discover by myself, and for that i’m glad i’ve learnt it. on the other hand, there are those i wished i need not learn simply as a matter of preference. i did enjoy my literature classes because i had a fantastic teacher who made lessons fun.

    i have always wished, and still do, that students have some sort of say over the choice of texts, even one will do. classics are no doubt important and the essence of literature, but it would be really nice if more contemporary literature can be included in the syllabus, like dessert after a plate of essential veg and meat.



  2. kinderny

    My daughter found depressing and disturbing many of the “relevant” novels that were assigned for classes in middle school. She actually wrote her persuasive paper in 7th grade on the problem of problem novels. She would much rather read classic novels with advanced vocabulary (and convoluted sentences) that did not have the main character finding his mother dead on the floor, or a father being whipped.
    I think part of the disconnect is middle school vs. high school, though. Now, as an almost high schooler, she is reading Holocaust related novels and non-fiction and it is not giving her nightmares.


  3. I have a group reading The Secret Garden right now. It is the “hardest” book they’ve ever read, but we are also having the best conversations ever, too. Luckily, this point is not lost on them.


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