Middle & High School Novels

Being in this class, I often think back to the novels I’ve had to read in grade school. The four that stood out to me (and that I actually remember) are The Hobbit, The Outsiders, And Then There Were None, and Fahrenheit 451.

Grade 8 English: The Hobbit and The Outsiders

I remember my teacher being pretty cool. Though looking back on it, reading The Hobbit was tough at that age, but nonetheless enjoyable! The Outsiders is a classic book to read around that age as it deals with interesting content. However, the only thing I actually remember from this book is Ponyboy (“stay golden Ponyboy…”).

Grade 9 English: And Then There Were None

This book is a murder mystery, and almost the whole class enjoyed it. Our teacher did a really good job in getting the students involved. For example, she got us to write predictions of who we thought the murderer was.

Grade 10 English: Fahrenheit 451

All I remember about the book is that it’s literally a book about burning books – the irony. I really did not enjoy this book and I remember thinking “I wish I could burn this book…”

Unfortunately I cannot remember the novels I read in grade 11 and 12, I only remember reading Shakespeare. Other than The Outsiders, the novels I read in middle and high school were not popular ones to read (as far as I’m aware). I never read The Catcher in the Rye, or Lord of the Flies, or Brave New World – all common books that are now brought up in English classes in University. The funny thing is, most of those who have read these common books remember them being dumb or pointless.

Is this really what teachers want their students to take from these novels? How much they hated reading it? While I’ll admit, I don’t remember much about the books I read in school, my point is that I remember which ones I enjoyed and which I’d rather have burned. I have enjoyed the books we have read so far in class, and from reading the backs of the rest, I feel the rest will be enjoyable as well. These are the types of books that teachers should being giving their students.

I guess what I’m trying to say is when teachers that make interesting books part of their curriculum, it makes a huge difference. I was lucky to have read some fun books in grade school.

~Chantelle

Works Cited

Bradbury, Ray. Fehrenhiet 451. NY: Ballantine Books, 1953. Print.

Christie, Agatha. And Then There Were None. : Collins Crime Club, 1939. Print.

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. Penguin Books, 1954. Print.

Hinton, S. E. The Outsiders. New York: Puffin, 1997. Print.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper Perenial, 1969. Print.

Salinger, J D, E M. Mitchell, and Lotte Jacobi. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1951. Print.

Tolkein, J.R.R. The Hobbit. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973. Print.

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5 thoughts on “Middle & High School Novels

  1. I remember reading The Hobbit in grade 8 and thinking ‘wow what a pointless book’ and then returning to it after I’d graduated and the movie was coming out and loving it a whole lot more. I think so much of what students take from books really comes from what their teachers put into teaching them. In grade eight The Hobbit was just a book that seemed almost plotless and a little pointless, but suddenly I graduate and there’s suddenly incentive to read it because there’s a movie coming out. It makes me wonder how we can make books more relevant to students. Additionally, is there truly value in forcing students to read ‘the classics’ if they can’t relate and don’t find them relevant, or is it better to get a class set of The Hunger Games if it’ll mean students will be more engaged?
    ~Cayley

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  2. Danielle Schmold says:

    I taught at a school last year where students read Divergent before the movie came out. The students were all so engaged, but the students this year are already over the craze. The books aren’t flying of the library shelves and there might not be many more years where they will be able to use the books they bought for the school in the same way. I think this is a common problem in English classes. Its really hard budget-wise to get a class set of books that are relevant to students for a long period of time. I think this is why teachers tend to stick to the classics, even though I don’t necessarily agree with it. I think the best approach that a lot of teachers are leaning towards is the letting students pick the novels they study. This has its positives and negatives but I still think that its a new way of getting students to love reading.

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  3. Peyton says:

    I think giving children options as to what to read is very important. Most kids (and adults for that matter) do not utilize the availability of local libraries. I don’t remember what I read in high school, except for some Shakespeare plays. I do remember my grade 12 teacher giving me a list of “100 of the Best Books in Literature” and telling us we had to read five of them in the semester. I still have the list and am going to try to read (and own) them all (so far I have read 29 and own 60). This list provided me suggestions of what to read and gave me direction for my literary journey. I think that giving children choice makes them more willing to read a book and thus making that book more enjoyable. Forcing someone to read a book takes away from that enjoyment. One of the problems I have as an English major is that I have encountered many books I probably would have enjoyed, but have failed to because I am forced to read them really fast and by a deadline. I have plans for when I become a teacher to enhance children’s enjoyment of reading and hope that they will be effective. Kids should want to read.

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  4. I agree with this blog very much! Fortunately, I was lucky in high school too, and I read many interesting books. In grade 10 I know I read To Kill a Mockingbird (which I enjoyed), but then the next two years I read much more contemporary novels. In grade 11 I read Life of Pi (which was well before the movie came out), and in grade 12 I read The Kiterunner. Reading relevant texts really makes a difference for the students. Also, my teacher was so engaged and loved what she taught, which really made it all the more enjoyable. So far, this class has had very interesting choices of text, so I definitely appreciate that!.

    – Julie Buoy

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  5. Alyssa D. says:

    I remember reading The Hobbit in grade 6, and I hated it. I do remember reading it though. Then in grade 7 we were allowed to pick our own novels for a book report, but it had to come from the school library. Even still, it was our choice. I picked Stargirl (because it was short). I actually did not like that book, but loved the book we read that year: Holes. I still love that book. I never had my own choice again until grade 11 when kids in my class started moaning about the length of Life of Pi. They wanted to read the novel that the other classes were: Lord of the Flies. Our teacher opened it up to us and we got to decide what we wanted to read. Me and two other people chose Life of Pi, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I had the greatest grade twelve English teacher. I did not want him initially because he was new and I loved my previous teacher, but when I got into his class he was teaching books that no other class was reading. We read A Streetcar Named Desire and Night by Elie Wiesel (he bellowed the “Stella!!!” scene and you could hear it through probably the entire school). I cannot remember the other ones right now. He opted to give us different scenes from different Shakespeare plays instead of just focusing on one, we analyzed interesting scenes and were not stuck reading an entire play (I would not have mined, but my classmates were sure happy). Though I agree that having options is something to be considered, I also think that we need to be open to reading the novels assigned. Maybe have both an option book and an assigned novel.

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