Friday, March 26, 2010

Book 30: Lord of the Flies.

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...


  1. Liked your post. Someday I hope to write a book where the royalties will pay for the copies I give away.

  2. Interesting. I actually *chose* to read this one when I was in seventh grade. Granted, it was on the "acceptable choices" list but it wasn't truly assigned to me. And I absolutely loved it. I still have my copy. And I have tried to re-read it in later years (because seventh grade was a very long time ago for me) but have never been able to because the minute I open that first pag, I can still see the image at the end (I could be more specific but I won't ruin it for you). The book is truly horrifying but boy did it have sticking power for me so I guess I'd argue that I did "get it" even at that young age.

  3. I had to read it as a class assignment in high school. Most of the kids hated it, but I didn't. Even though it's really disturbing, I loved the way the author used words and his descriptions of the characters and setting were so vivid it really pulled me in. It's still one of my favorite books, for that reason. The real impact of the story didn't really sink in for me until I read it again later.

  4. When I was 10 I had a huge crush on Lance who was a family friend and 22. He gave me the book for Christmas one year so of course to impress him I read it. It to this day is still my all time favorite book. And no, not because of the crush. When I turned 12 I realized he was disgustingly old. :)

  5. Ice cream, that is cheap, FACT!