Before my summer is over and I have to go back to school (tomorrow) I wanted to post about something I’ve noticed in my local library.
Recently, I’ve noticed that some ‘classic’ books are being moved into the YA section; titles like To Kill A Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Great Gatsby. I wanted to comment on this because I think it’s a really good idea. Typically, summer reading assignments in high school aren’t something anyone gets excited about. While I’ve read my share of assigned reading that I hated (don’t even get me started on The Awakening) I like that summer reading assignments force you to read outside of your normal choices. It’s a chance to read something you would never pick on your own, and while sometimes you hate them (like Their Eyes Were Watching God) there are always a few that you end up really loving (like Catch-22).
I also like that once you start to read classic novels you realize all of the cultural references that always went right over your head. Having just finished Catch-22, I really can’t believe how many lines in movies or books or songs finally make sense to me. One of my favorites is being able to use the Holden Caulfield complex in arguments about whether or not a character is likable. And, I mean, at the very least, you’ll finally understand what Wuthering Heights or Romeo and Juliet has Bella so excited about (although I still don’t understand that one).
What I’m trying to say, in an apparently really long winded way, is that I’m glad the YA librarian at my library is moving some older, classic novels into the YA section because I think it might get more kids to read them just because they look good and not just because they have to for school. I think it would be cool to see how they’re compared to more contemporary fiction, and moving both into the same section is kind of an experiment I’d like to see the results of. I think librarians encouraging summer reading assignments, even in a small way like this, could be really helpful in the long run. Or, at the very least, all the high school kids might have an easier time finding their assigned reading.