English Reading Lists

The debate surrounding relevance to our English books.


No matter the school, district, or even state, reading book classics seems to be a universal experience for every highschooler. 


Even today, students’ parents are able to relate to these books because they were also forced to read them in high school 20 years ago. This has raised a question. Are our English books still relevant today?


This goes without saying that the curriculum changes a lot each decade. This also means that some books have been taken out and replaced because of controversy.


Although old classics can teach teens important lessons, we have to be careful that the books are worth the read.


Teresa Huber, an English teacher at Elkhorn North explains that although old classics can teach teens important lessons, we have to be careful that the books are worth the read. 


We removed Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a couple of years ago as its educational value no longer outweighed its potential for offense.” Huber said.


These books are not intended for students to read without guidance. Some of the old styles of writing may be confusing, but the themes and controversies of older texts are used to spark up dialogue and discussion in the classroom.


Besides the topic of controversy in older books, there is also the question of relevance. These books were written so long ago, can we even apply any of this to our society today?


Despite the time difference, many would argue that in any classic an important lesson can be learned.


Jeff Lacey, another English teacher at Elkhorn North says that there is a reason certain classics are still around in classrooms today.


“It probably includes themes and ideas that are ‘relevant’ in the sense that they are still very real things humans go through in 2022.  For example, even ancient works like ‘Hamlet’ include ideas about personal identity and relationships that are still around today.” Lacey said.


Overall, while teens possess the right to question the books that are continuously being taught in their class, the intent of teaching them these books is to be able to carefully explore issues with a teachers’ guidance cautiously. These books are intended for students to think, theorize, and question.