Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Best Assigned Reading?

 Top Ten Books That You Wish Were Taught In Schools

What books should be taught in schools?

As I learned this summer, something dies when a book is assigned. 

No assigned reading then. 

What about a list of great books to pick from?

Okay. I'll go for that. If we really want students to read books they connect with, if we really want students to read books that set them thinking, if we really want students to become lifelong readers...how about a list like this?

The House on Mango Street
The Fault in Our Stars
How to Be Perfect (poems)
Any Billy Collins (more poems)
Nickel and Dimed
I Am the Messenger
Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Arrival
High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver
God Went to Beauty School
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog
Reading Lolita in Tehran
How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Life and Work
The Van Gogh Cafe by Cynthia Rylant
The Hunger Games
My Name is Maria Isabel
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
Ender's Game
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
The Happiness Project
Giants in the Earth
Dandelions by Eve Bunting
The Westing Game
If the World Were a Village
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Kathleen Krull's Lives of the Artists (or any in this series)
Never Cry Wolf
The Little Prince
Rotten Island by William Steig
Walk Two Moons
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Holes by Louis Sachar
A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen
Bud, Not Buddy
The Duck in the Gun by Joy Cowley
Wolves by Emily Gravett
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Anne of Green Gables
Of Mice and Men
The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
The 13 Clocks
Regarding the Fountain by Kate Klise
Love That Dog
The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse by John R. Erickson
Harry Potter
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
The Phantom Tollbooth
The Tale of Despereaux
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Material World by Peter Menzel
A Wrinkle in Time
How to Steal a Dog
Snow Treasure
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs
The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
The Last Lecture
The Last Shot by Darcy Frey (basketball; nonfiction)
The Good Earth
American Born Chinese
Because of Winn-Dixie
Pride & Prejudice 
The Book Thief
The Glass Bead Game
Eleanor & Park
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
The Hobbit
Out of the Dust
The Giver
14 Cows for America
To Kill a Mockingbird
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Glass Castle
Tadpole's Promise (I'd love to hear what teens would say about this one!) 
Fahrenheit 451
Lord of the Flies
Poetry 180 (yet more poetry)
My Name is Asher Lev
Gift of the Magi
Bless Me, Ultima
The Diary of Anne Frank
Animal Farm
A Christmas Carol
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
The Lightning Thief

What else? Do you have more good possible choices? But let's not assign everyone the same book any more. Please.

What do you think?  Should students be assigned a book to read? If so, what would you suggest?

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.


  1. Wow what a list! But I see many I loved and would like to see in school like TFiOS and HP, Stargirl, THG, Perks, The Little Prince... So many good ones!

  2. I think students would like to have more choices. Much easier to find a book that would actually be read!

  3. Freshman preamp students are reading: lord of the flies, to kill a mockingbird & Beowulf -- so a couple off your lst.

  4. What an amazing list! I think I'd add "Giants in the Earth" by O.E. Rolvaag. I read it for a Great Plains Lit class and thought it was very good.

  5. I wonder, Sherry, if they had choices or had to read all three.

  6. I think there should be a place for personal favorites and for regional favorites, Les.

  7. I read a children's picture book this weekend that wowed me, Les, about the Great Plains. Perhaps I'll add it, too. The title is Dandelions.

  8. When I was in middle school I really hated assigned reading and it was a torture to nread them and then brake them to pieces. BUT since I started writing reviews I'm more possitive about it since I understand the book more and I can write such more detailed rant on it - whether negative or positive!
    And you've listed so many books here that I haven't yet read! Actually you posted few that I did read. Woops. Great list nonetheless! :)

  9. That is some list! :-) I actually had to read The House on Mango Street in high school and that was one of the few I did read. Honestly I don't remember what it was about at all. HA.

    Thanks for visiting.

    My TTT List

  10. Even good books like Mango Street suffer from being assigned, I think.

  11. I agree that books shouldn't be assigned. It takes most of the fun out of reading. I would've enjoyed it much more if I had been given a list of books to choose from. I will admit though I haven;t read most of the books on your list. It's very impressive :)

  12. I love your answer this week! And that is a fantastic list you put together, I don't even know where to begin xD

    My TTT

  13. Wow that's a long list! Some of these I really loved but most of them I still need to read. Thanks for recommendations!
    Thank you for stopping by my blog :)

  14. I like your list very much, and that is the right idea! Give a list to kids and let me find the one that speaks to them personally. I am a mood reader and wouldn't like if someone handed me a book and said, read it now! Also, a bunch of these titles are on the Banned Books List from the ALA. Pretty sad.

  15. I completely agree with you! The only reason assigned reading didn't ruin books for is because I have always been a huge reader, since I even knew reading was a thing (and many of the books I'd already read). But I'm really the only one of my friends who felt that way. I unfortunately have a large group of nonreading friends!

    This is such a WONDERFUL LIST!!! It's got so many of my absolute favourites, and it covers such a wide array of genres! I love that you have many books on here that people wouldn't think of right away (Skellig!!)

    As I was making my list, I realized how many issues today (like say bullying and suicide) AREN'T found in the classics. And The Classics (not to be confused by classics - The Classics are the books EVERYONE has to read and are for adults, not the fantastic children/YA classics we have) have such a narrow genre and there's really a lack of women in control of their situations. We need to revamp our lists and update a little!

  16. Thanks, justcaffeinated and Lanaia. I've thought about this a lot.

  17. I wonder what it means that many of these titles are on the Banned Book Lists. Edgy, maybe? Kids like edgy, I think.

  18. Yes, I agree, Elizabeth. If books are going to be relevant, they need to be contemporary. Otherwise, let's just stop writing and publishing new books, right?

  19. I love this approach to the topic and your reasoning. I remember in school how I'd dread a book that was assigned simply because it was assigned reading and would be discussed and over analyzed to death. I always preferred those times we were given a choice to find a book on a theme to do independent work. The schools in my town, at least for summer reading, will give a list like you do and tell kids to pick out x to read and then report on.

    My TTT is here.

  20. Wow giant list :) some great books on there though :) Also i agree that assigned reading does ruin some books, it sucks when that happens :(

    Thanks for stopping by my blog

    Sanna @ Fanciful Fictions

  21. Such a comprehensive list! I agree that it would be ideal for students to have a list and choose their own books. The reason it will probably not happen anytime soon is that damned standardized testing that is sinking our educational system on the whole. Just my personal thought! :) I still need to read a lot of these myself.

    My TTT:

    I haven't read any of these! Not even Tuesdays At Morrie's, though I've read others by Albom (I'm from Michigan like him, so kind of ashamed right now!). This is a list I have to look into now! :)

    My TTT:


  22. Great list, Anna! I like the combination of fiction and nonfiction. Have you read The Happiness Project? It's on my to-read list. Julia @ stylishinthestacks.blogspot.com


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