I think most young adults in the United States were forced to read Lord of the Flies sometime in their school career. I feel for them, because I never had to. For some unknown reason, I never "had" to read this book and I never felt any real desire to pick it up on my own in high school either.
With that being said, I know the jist of the story fairly well. After all, since most American teens are forced to read this (Yes, I am using the word "force"), I was the minority all throughout college when the book was referenced, just like I was when Of Mice and Men was talked about (nope, never read that either). Thus, I felt like I had to at least acquaint myself with the book so I at least knew the story. I even went out and bought a copy.
Then I started reading. I got 30 pages in, determined it was stupid, threw it at the wall, and moved on with my life.
I still have my copy. One corner is bent pretty badly from hitting the wall.
While I do believe that we should be reading more of the classics in general, I hate that certain titles are thrown down the throats of American high schoolers. As an educator, I am a big proponent of choices in the classroom. When it came time for me to assign projects during my student teaching and when I taught history last year, I always offered options. I personally don't think it is right to assume that every student will like everything I do, so I try and vary assignments accordingly. I have always said that when I do have my own classroom and I am teaching English, I will most certainly offer choices. Taking into account that there is a specific canon I need to teach, I will do while offering my students choices about the books they are expected to read.
I am sure that most of us can remember a time when we were told to read a book that we absolutely hated. I can also go on a rant here about finding suitable books for age groups. For example, I read Great Expectations when I was 13 for school. Even though I was in the advanced English class, I had no idea what the book was about and hated that it was forced down my throat. I was too young to understand it.
Lord of the Flies is commonly taught at that same age, or a year older. Do you think it is really possible for every 13 and 14 year old to understand the significance of this book? Sure, I bet a handful will "Get it," but most won't. Especially since in most districts you don't learn about the fear of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear holocaust until a year or two after that. It doesn't make sense.
Anyway, I suppose I am trying to say that even though I haven't read this book from cover to cover yet, we already have a lot of history together. It should be interesting, and hopefully eye-opening to finally read it. Perhaps my opinions will change...