RTW: School Reading


Road Trip Wednesday is a “Blog Carnival,” where YA Highway‘s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.



This week’s topic:

In high school, teens are made to read the classics – Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Bronte, Dickens – but there are a lot of books out there never taught in schools. So if you had the power to change school curriculums, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?



First, I need to tell you I’m Brazilian. Hence, I went to high school in Brazil and read Brazilian classics.

However, I went to college in the US and took two literature classes where I was required to read only a few American classics, like Hemingway and Hawthorne and Harper Lee.


Thinking of what I would love for my daughter to read (if she was a teenager today), here is my list of teen-required-reads:

  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (thoughts on Dystopian world)
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green (teen issues)
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (nice way of introducing Greek mythology)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (this is a classic all on its own)
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (sorry, had to add a Brazilian book. But it’s a quick, awesome, reflective reading about going after your dreams, not giving up and the meaning of life).
  • Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler (to start discussions about topics like anorexia and other disorders).


I want to add Eragon by Christopher Paolini to that list (to introduce high fantasy with a delightful reading), but it’s a large book and I think kids would dislike it before even starting because of the length.

By the way, I would ADD these books to the required-reading-list, and I wouldn’t take out all classics. After all, classics are a part of our history and should be appreciated and respected.


Do you agree with my list? Which books you would take out or add to this list?


28 Responses to RTW: School Reading

  • My son and I read Eragon out loud together and I had explain what the word impaled meant. That was an interesting conversation. Great list of books. JK Rowling is a classic already. :) The original Hunger Games was my son’s favorite book.
    Ciara Knight recently posted: Knight of the Round Table ReviewMy Profile

  • I have had The Alchemist sitting on my bookshelf for (literally) years. I really need to read that one!

    Great list :)
    Sara McClung recently posted: Sara’s Required Reading 101My Profile

  • I would agree with most of those. Yes, Rowling is already in classic status. I’m on the six book of the Chronicles of Narnia as I read a page a few pages to them every night.

  • Great list! Hunger Games, definitely and same with Harry Potter.
    Jaime recently posted: Read me, Jaime! Read me!My Profile

  • THE ALCHEMIST is a great add, for Brazil and the U.S.! And I agree, these books should be ADDED to the current required classics. Those obviously still have merit!

    I’d be so curious to hear what Brazilian classics you read! I love that RTW is introducing some international perspectives on curriculum!
    Sarah recently posted: Required ReadingMy Profile

  • DEFINITELY to Harry Potter and the Hunger Games. Harry Potter because, like you said, it’s a classic all on its own and a great way to get kids to read. Hunger Games because it’s such an eye-opening look at reality TV and the way our entertainment works and how desensitized we can get.

  • I agree with adding in these modern young adult reads. If teens don’t learn to love reading first, how will they ever appreciate the classics? And I have a sneaking suspicion that most kids could endure the length of Eragon for the sake of reading about dragons ;)
    Susan recently posted: RTW #105: Sending VirgilMy Profile

  • I agree with keeping the classics, and adding modern/YA classics to the list! I haven’t read Percy Jackson and I should; same with The Alchemist. :)

  • I’m loving the international feel of this RTW too! It’s interesting that when we say “high school” we assume all kinds of commonalities, and yet there different experiences too.

    Thanks for reminding me about the Alchemist; I read it years ago and enjoyed it and then forgot all about it. I’ll have to go back and read it again. And good point that more contemporary choices can complement the classics rather than detract from or replace them.
    Angelica R. Jackson recently posted: RTW: Rite of Passage ReadingMy Profile

  • AWESOME list! I agree with many of them in my post!

  • Great choices! And although you mentioned Coehlo, this made me wonder what other Brazilian classics might add new perspectives to US classrooms…
    Crystal Schubert recently posted: Diversifying the HS CannonMy Profile

    • Well, not much, I think. They are all very centered on our culture (of many years ago). The truth, I didn’t enjoy most of them, so it depends on the reader.

  • Excellent choices, Juliana! I included ALASKA on my list too. :) I’d like to hope that by the time ALL teens get to high school they’ve read both the HARRY POTTER Series and THE HUNGER GAMES Trilogy. Glad you included them though, just in case!
    Katy Upperman recently posted: RTW: If I were head of curriculum…My Profile

  • “After all, classics are a part of our history and should be appreciated and respected.”

    So agree. That’s one of the reasons I don’t fault my school district for requiring one Canadian book be taught in my senior year (though I disagreed with their choice of book).
    Kathleen recently posted: RTW: Back to SchoolMy Profile

  • I put The Hunger Games on my list, too! I didn’t even think about Percy Jackson, although I probably should add that to my list – I know a couple middle school teachers who said they used that with their 6th graders, and it worked really well.
    Stephanie Allen recently posted: Road Trip Wednesday: Books & SchoolMy Profile

  • Reagan’s War – Peter Schweizer

    1776 – David McCullough

    John Adams – David McCullough (Really this author is amazing – and his books are very interesting. They would hold the teen attention span)

    Beric The Briton – G.A. Henty (Again, any works from this author would be great reads)

    The Light In The Forest – Conrad Richter

    The Post-American World – Fareed Zakaria

    What’s So Great About America – Dinesh D’Souza

    The End of Racism – Dinesh D’Souza

    Culture and Imperialism – Edward Said

    These would be a few of my top picks…it’s difficult, there are so many great books. I think that by HS, students should already know the grammar rules and such. Honors classes should be renamed – ‘Great-Books’ and the kids should read, read, read. No more questions packets to answer, no vocabulary words to write, just reading and discussion with one book discussion paper due each month. The student can choose their book from a large master list. ..heh heh…this is also why I’m not on the PA Board of Education…he heh. It’s too simple of a plan. We wouldn’t need to spend scads of cash to implement it – we already have public libraries, right? – and students would be responsible for their own education.
    Nadja Notariani recently posted: A Quick Check-InMy Profile

  • I agree with a lot of the books on your list. I loved Eragon when I was younger.

    Also, We have presented you with an award on our blog. Check it out:

    Tyler-Rose Counts recently posted: We are lovely!My Profile

  • I’m with you on the adding to the list. As a teen i read non-stop so some more good stuff would have helped me find the best books out there.

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