March 6, 2012

High School Reading Challenge

As a high school English teacher, I spend a lot of my day figuring out how to make classic pieces of literature more accessible for teenagers. Not every teenager is overwhelmingly eager when it comes to reading Crime and Punishment or Romeo and Juliet. Sound familiar?

One thing I have been trying to do within the last year is stretch my boundaries when it comes to works of literature I read in high school but am not as acquainted with as an adult. A lot can seep away from that lit-lovin' memory in the 10 years I've been out of high school.  A few years ago a colleague of mine urged me to revisit the Thornton Wilder classic Our Town because he suggested that I would find more meaning in it as an adult than I did in high school. He was so right. At the beginning of this school year, when I realized I would have a spring semester loaded with all freshman English courses, I had to revisit texts from my distant past--Ethan Frome, Romeo and Juliet, Night, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Animal Farm.While I'm still hacking away at this list, I have found that I am getting so much more meaning from these texts as an adult and I am thinking that you might as well. For example, Ethan Frome is much more intense and meaningful now that I'm married and understand the trials and tribulations of marriage. Animal Farm hits home, not because I live on a farm, but because I have a more mature understanding of the way politics, governments, and free societies work. See what I mean?

Now, sure, I understand that I have an English degree and naturally love reading, but maybe there's a piece from a high school English class in the past that you never paid much mind to. Wouldn't it be awesome to go back and revisit that text just to see what it's like now, however many years later? 

Ok.. maybe I'm just a nerd...

Either way. I challenge you to find a text from the past--an essay, novel, play, etc.--that you haven't visited in a while and re-read it. Just try it.

And of course-- let me know how it goes!

I'm going to start this challenge by re-reading Night by Elie Wiesel. It's been a while and after my trip to the Holocaust Museum in DC a few weekends ago, I think I need to revisit it.

Good luck! :)


  1. I too am an English major and I love going back and re-reading books from those high school years. Books that I once hated, I now love. They make sense to me now. And those that I loved have more meaning now that I'm older. I absolutely love visiting those texts again!

    1. Oh Alli, that is awesome. I am always really rejuvenated when a like-minded soul shares the same sentiments as I. I wonder what it will be like reading these books yet again 25 years from now?

  2. I just found your blog and I'm so glad I did! I'm a sophomore in college right now and I'm an English major. I plan to be a high school English teacher. I absolutely love this post. You have inspired me to re-visit a few books as soon as possible!