It’s not so great in college when you actually have to buy all the books. And those classes when you can tell a book has been used for a decade or longer might not seem so fun. But then, if you are lucky, magic happens. A story will take hold of you and do wonderful things to your brain and your heart.
A quick look at a reading list for high school sophomores includes “Animal Farm” and “1984” by George Orwell, “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, and William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”
Those are all books that the anti-authoritarian-teenage-boy-heart-of-mine loves, but there is a huge problem: The books are all written by men, about men and boys and for men and boys.
The highest listed female author is Harper Lee and the next is Cassandra Clare and her book “City of Bones.” Suzanna Collins and “The Hunger Games” also makes the list. Eventually, the list gets dominated by Clare, Collins and others writing in the modern Young Adult Dystopia and Paranormal Romance subgenera.
In other words, sophomores are learning how weird the world can be and how governments are trying to control them.
Personally, I am all for this. What better time to learn how to revolt than at age 15, whether male or female?
What better time for girls to learn that 99.9 percent of classic literature was written by men, who oversee the vast majority of the governments being overthrown in many of these books?
Teenage rebellion seems so easy, and maybe it’s because of what kids are reading.
Don’t get me wrong — I think it is great that many of these books are on the recommended list instead of a banned list. But I’d like to see more diversity on a list like this. I’d like to see more young people use the written word to try to change the world.
Youth, remember: No one is going to remember that tweet you made about how you wish the world were different. They might remember it if you expanded it into a book.
Tell your teachers and parents you want to write a book just to see if you can. And if it doesn’t turn out to be a great or important book, so what? At least you did it.
While you are at it, make your own reading list. Read the books you want to read. Read classics and things your parents might not want you to read.
Parents: Encourage your children to read. Whether the books are from some list or not, let them read, and let them see you read. Read together. Read the same book and talk about it.
It’s a new school year. Read a new book.
Tranchell is the adviser to student media at the University of Idaho. He loves books and loves hearing how much other people love books. What is your favorite book? Or a book you read that you weren’t supposed to read? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org.