Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Required Reading

As students, we’ve all experienced novels in English class that are required for us to read. Sometimes these books turn out to be good and other times, not so much. Personally, I have disliked most of the books I’ve been required to read for a number of reasons. However, I can see the benefits to required reading as it is done through the school system.

There are certainly some advantages to required reading material in school. One could be that the book causes students to branch out of their comfort zone, as far as books go, and help them pursue a new genre that they, normally, would not have read by themselves. This advantage holds true to me, since I am someone who has no trouble re-reading Harry Potter for the zillionth time. I find it interesting if we read a book in class that I would not have otherwise wanted to read.

Required reading can help to grow vocabulary, reading, and writing proficiency. If a student was to go to a library and pick out any book, they would most likely pick one they like or are comfortable with reading. In school, students do not have the luxury of choosing which books to read, and therefore are subject to harder vocabulary and sentence types in higher level books written by authors with insanely confusing diction. This relates to my English class experiences with A Tale of Two Cities which challenged my reading and writing proficiency greatly. Although these examples may make required reading seem great, students may also find themselves despising any book they are forced to read and make it harder for the student to get involved in the class or homework.

A solution to this problem would be to give students a list of different books they can read, all out of their comfort zone of genre and reading proficiency level, and give them the choice of which book they would like to read. This gives students the idea that they themselves are choosing what they want to read which may result in fewer students being uninterested or unfocused while keeping a challenging level of reading and vocabulary along with it.

-Kyle H.

What are your thoughts on required reading? Let us know in the comments below!

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Hoot is one of my favorite books of all time. The author, Carl Hiaasen, masterfully weaves different stories into the book to finally merge into one, beautifully composed masterpiece.

Roy Eberhardt is the new kid–again. This time around it’s Trace Middle School in humid Coconut Grove, Florida. But it’s still the same old routine: table by himself at lunch, no real friends, and thick-headed bullies like Dana Matherson pushing him around.

But if it wasn’t for Dana Matherson mashing his face against the school bus window that one day, he might never have seen the tow-headed running boy. And if he had never seen the running boy, he might never have met tall, tough, bully-beating Beatrice. And if he had never met Beatrice, he might never have discovered the burrowing owls living in the lot on the corner of East Oriole Avenue. And if he had never discovered the owls, he probably would have missed out on the adventure of a lifetime. Apparently, bullies do serve a greater purpose in the scope of the universe. Because if it wasn’t for Dana Matherson….

Roy’s whole fiasco wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Carl Hiaasen plunges readers right into the middle of an ecological mystery, made up of endangered miniature (and super cute!) owls, the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House scheduled to be built over their burrows, and the owls’ unlikely allies–three middle school kids determined to beat the screwed-up adult system.

As I read this book, I was grinning and thinking how cool the three main characters were. And beware–because once you pick up this book…you can’t put it down, because it is truly a hoot.

-Katherine L.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

Middle school shouldn’t be a time for people to be put under so much stress. But, Fern, a twelve-year-old girl, has to deal with much more than she should.

Her father is constantly trying to boost business for the family restaurant, and unfortunately, Fern often gets pulled into the mess, being forced to wear stupid t-shirts for ads. Her mother is always meditating, and on the rare occasion that she’s not, she’s doting over Fern’s three-year-old brother Charlie, who always gets what he wants.

As if that weren’t enough, her two older siblings are dealing with their own problems that often end up affecting the entire family. Sarah, her older sister, is taking a gap year after high school and is busy avoiding work, while Holden, Fern’s brother, is focused on making himself believe that his parents don’t realize that he’s gay.

But then something catastrophic happens – something Fern would have never expected, and it changes all of their lives tremendously. Ran is Fern’s only solace in this huge mess, with his soothing presence, and his t-shirts with positive and encouraging quotes. She must rely on his mantra: “all will be well” to convince herself that she will be able to get through all of this.

I didn’t really know anything about this book before reading it, but I was looking for something to read, and thought this book looked interesting. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was and read the whole thing in one day. The book itself isn’t very long-so it’s a fairly quick read. But, it is pretty deep, and it’s definitely filled with a lot of emotion.

Although the author, Jo Knowles, did grow up helping out at her parent’s family restaurant, the characters in this book are fictional. However I felt that she did an amazing job at describing and developing these characters. I could easily imagine a family like Fern’s to be out there somewhere.

I really love this book despite the fact that it is very sad. If you do end up reading it, which I highly recommend doing, make sure to have a tissue box nearby.

-Elina T.