Here on FYA, we use the label "Required Reading" to indicate books that are SO AWESOME THEY MUST BE READ IMMEDIATELY BY EVERYONE WITHIN AN INTERNET RADIUS.
Obvs this is a twist on the required reading we all knew and loved/hated back in high school, which I have mixed feelings about. As a nerd, I actually loved most of the books we were assigned, but I realize that not every kid gets excited at the thought of diving into a book about, you know, slavery or ladies that write lots of letters or weirdos in the future who take soma.
Obvs it's important to teach kids WHY they should read (don't EVEN bring up the recent cancellation of Reading Rainbow cos I will cryyyyyy), and I believe, for some students, this process necessitates the use of gateway drugs, i.e. books based on video games, tv shows, sparkly vampires, etc.
If you agree with me, you'll probably find this recent NY Times article, "A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like," interesting and (nerd alert) EXCITING! Basically, teachers are daring to give their kids a choice about what they read in class. Here's an excerpt:
But literacy specialists also say that instilling a habit is as important as creating a shared canon. "If what we're trying to get to is, everybody has read Ethan Frome and Henry James and Shakespeare, then the challenge for the teacher is how do you make that stuff accessible and interesting enough that kids will stick with it," said Catherine E. Snow, a professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. "But if the goal is, how do you make kids lifelong readers, then it seems to me that there's a lot to be said for the choice approach. As adults, as good readers, we don't all read the same thing, and we revel in our idiosyncrasies as adult readers, so kids should have some of the same freedom."
DOUBLE TRUE, CATHERINE SNOW!
Obvs I'm not a teacher, nor a librarian, so I can't speak to the difficulty of balancing choice with, say, requirements for standardized testing. The article definitely touches upon the difficulty not only of working within a rigid curriculum but also of dealing with kids who, even when they have freedom, totally don't give a shizz.
Any teachers and librarians out there, feel free to dish it up! This IS the girls' bathroom, after all, where nothing is sacred and freedom of speech runs all over the walls.
SO if I were a teacher, and I was lucky enough to give my students a choice, I would definitely follow the lead of the teacher in the article and offer some "hints," such as:
Hunger Games (DIZZ-uh), King Dork (this is probably why I'm not a teacher, cos do they even allow this book in schools?), It's Kind of a Funny Story, The Truth About Forever, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, Sweethearts
(And you can bet yr sweet pants that all of those books are gonna show up on le blog under "Required Reading" in the v. near future cos i'm like, Ali Larter level OBSESSED)
And now I turn to you, dear reader(s?): what books would make yr list?