Opinion | Pros and Cons to Required Classics in Class

The advantages and disadvantages of classic books that are in the presence of English classrooms in schools today


Oliver Hanover, Staffer

“The Alchemist”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Catcher in the Rye”, “Fahrenheit 451”, and “Lord of the Flies” are all classics that students will at one point or another run into during their years in school. Although some students may see these books as boring or too old, some students may take interest in the stories with different literary perspectives.

With so many books out there it’s hard to find ones that pique the interest of so many students out there. Having the “classics” in classrooms helps students find those books they can relate to. “Better still, students might find unexpected joy in the poetry of Langston Hughes or Maya Angelou. They might relate to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’s Francie Nolan or be inspired by Anne Frank. Without teacher-directed reading lists, they might never read these works on their own.” Learning Liftoff said. Exposure is one of the best ways for students, especially in school, to find what they enjoy and relate to. It’s also a great way to help and inspire future authors. 

Students that read for fun have also been seen to help widen their vocabulary and help expand their knowledge on special interests that they enjoy.”Through independent reading, children gain a wealth of background knowledge about many different things, understand story and non-fiction structures, absorb the essentials of English grammar, and continuously expand their vocabularies.” Valerie Strauss from The Washington Post.

A negative thing that can come out of reading the “classics” is the failure that comes out of the assignments, when students aren’t interested in the material they tend to not want to take part in anything in class which can set them behind. “Sometimes well-meaning adults steer kids away from what they want to read, and it can zap a child’s motivation,” says Elizabeth Babbin, from Understood

Parents also play a huge role in the media that their children consume. Based on the views that the parents have, it could differ from what the kid is allowed to read in school. As people see in libraries, parents, and people apart of that community ban books that they deem inappropriate for their children. Especially in high schools where diversity in the kids’ literature is needed. For example when parents banned “To kill a mocking Bird” from schools for racial slurs and the negative effect on the students. “Diverse characters and points of view bring the world to life. Beyond building empathy for others, diverse perspectives and characters help children think through history, ideas, and concepts from different angles. This is an essential skill for critical thinking, which serves students throughout their lifetime.” said Maoria Kirker from George Mason University.

While there is still a curriculum that makes these books mandatory, school districts have lightened up on the rule. This is helping the students and teachers to get a fresh breath of air from the same books every year. To help out their teachers, students could even suggest some books that they think are a good fit for their peers because they have the best insight into what kids are into.