Within the English curriculum at Holy Trinity, there are several books that students have been required to read over the years: The Outsiders, Fahrenheit 451, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Catcher in the Rye to name a few. Most of these books are regarded as classics, examples of literature that embody the spirit of language and storytelling. Students study these books in great detail, often scouring each individual line for its deeper meaning and purpose. But which of these books do students actually enjoy.
Kaylie Johnson, a junior and an avid reader, notes the importance of required reading while also offering insight into the countering perspective of allowing students to choose their own books to read in English classes. “I think that required reading is important because, generally speaking, the books that teachers choose are what reinforce the course material. Most of the time, I have ended up enjoying and learning from what we have read. That being said, I think that once in a while, it could be beneficial to encourage choosing books personally to read for fun within English classes,” she says.
Similarly, junior Dhyana Mishra adds, “ I think that required reading is important to a large extent. I’ve learned a lot from the books that we’ve read in English classes. Required reading has also led me to explore and enjoy other works from authors that I’ve been exposed to from English class. At the same time, I wish we had more time offered to read individually and for pleasure.”
Both readers acknowledge the debate surrounding required reading, illustrating that by perhaps allowing students more freedom to choose what they read in English classes, they may become more actively engaged in the study of literature and language.
With that being said, there are several books that students have enjoyed within the required reading curriculum at Holy Trinity. Mishra notes John Steinbeck’s novella, The Pearl, as one of her favorites from ninth grade English.
“My favorite book from school would have to be The Pearl by Steinbeck. There’s something unique in the simplicity of the plot and the clarity of Steinbeck’s message that is very beautiful.”
The Pearl is about a Mexican diver named Kino, his wife Juana, and their infant son Coyotito, and examines the themes of family, socioeconomic status, and the American dream.
Senior Lauren Allison also notes that classics To Kill a Mockingbird and In Cold Blood are her favorite novels from English. “I love that both of these books express detailed stories despite their different genres. They are both very entertaining reads,” she says.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is often regarded as one of the greatest novels of all time, exploring themes of racial injustice, adolescence, and embracing the aspects of others that are different from oneself.
Johnson and Allison share differing perspectives on the novel The Things They Carried, a story reflecting themes of war, truth, and the art of storytelling itself. Johnson notes that the novel is one of her favorites. “I was not expecting to like it, but it was so well-written and expressed with such blatant honesty that it was kind of difficult to stop reading,” she says.
On the contrary, Allison says, “One book I had to read that I didn’t enjoy very much personally was The Things They Carried. While it is definitely a beautiful book and holds a very important message, it is not the type of book I would prefer to read. I believe that the style of this book has an artistic feel to it and uses the style of the text to make a point. While this might be amazing for some, it is simply not my preference.”
All in all, required reading has proven to be an ongoing subject of interest as students begin to voice their opinions on various types of literature. Perhaps combining a curriculum of required novels with the freedom to choose others would instill a greater passion for literature and language within the students at Holy Trinity.