It has become more and more clear over the last few years that the reading selections of the Language Arts curriculum simply do not hold enough interest for students in the classroom.
While some students enjoy the novels that they read and analyze in a Language Arts class, the truth is that too many students are not engaged in those same books.
One of the most significant factors in why students don’t like the current novels is because those books were written quite some time ago. Nothing from “Catcher in the Rye” to “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” has been written in this century.
Because of this, students are not able to connect to the characters or the storyline. They simply do not find the relevance of reading a book when they do not care for the characters or what will happen to them.
Freshman Monisha Kapadia says, “All the books we read in class are just old. They don’t interest me in any way and I’d much rather read a more recent book than something from a long time ago.”
These older books also do not have as much representation in terms of diversity in the characters, which is another contributing factor as to why students cannot relate to the books. Most of the dynamic characters are male, white, straight, or all three.
Most of these books also have characters that are not close to the age of a typical high schooler, which adds to the sense of not being attached to the story.
Another important reason as to why these books do not appeal to high school students is that they do not really deal with topics that students of this age are interested in.
Many of these stories deal with serious topics such as poverty in “The House on Mango Street” and racism in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” While these are topics that students should be well-read in, they are not the only topics that students should be exposed to. Most likely, students would be more intrigued by subjects such as romance, family, and friendship.
Students also need exposure to other genres of literature besides just realistic and historical fiction. Genres including science fiction, dystopian, and fantasy would open up many students’ eyes to the diversity in literature, making them more likely to pick up a book if they know it is a genre they enjoy.
For all these reasons, novels with various focuses and different genres should be incorporated into the curriculum so students are more exposed to all the kinds of literature that is available to them.
Freshman Riya Patel says, “We need more diversity in this subject. The few books we’ve been reading are all the same genre, set in the same time period. We would all enjoy the subject more if they read books of more interesting genres, such as mystery, science fiction, or adventure.”
Having these new and more diverse selections in Language Arts classrooms would make it more likely that students will enjoy books they read in school, and those students could then go on to become a more avid readers.
Students who enjoy books that they have read in school are also likely to do better academically, since they would be more passionate about the story and more willing to do a project or write an essay based on that novel. They would also be more active in class discussions if they were interested in the novel that was being discussed.
Which books would you like to see integrated into the Language Arts curriculum?