Bookish Discussions: Required Reading in School

Posted August 5, 2015 by Zeee in Discussions | 0 Comments

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Back in school – well, middle school and high school, we didn’t get a lot of required reading, aside from the smattering of Filipiniana (books written by Filipinos).  Oh, did I mention that I did not grow up in the United States?  Well, now you know.  So back then, we weren’t required to read any novels but we did have a library day for an hour once a week (so sad, yeah?) where we can borrow a maximum of 2 books for a week.  You might say that it was the highlight of my week despite only having those old books.  This was where I found an insignificant book by Madeleine L’Engle called A Wrinkle in Time.  I devoured it and LOVED it.  Of course, the whole series wasn’t available at the library so I was only able to read that book.  I also borrowed the Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys series which was really awesome!

Thoughts on Assigned Reading

But let us talk about assigned reading.  I don’t remember getting assigned reading at all in middle school, but in high school, we did have three, one for every year in high school (we have 4 years in high school) but for some reason, we didn’t have one assigned book in my sophomore year.  Our assigned books were Ang Ibong Adarna (an epic written in the 17th century, author unknown), Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal and El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal.  Now these books were in the traditional Tagalog (the Philippine national language) and when I mean traditional, I mean it is in these really old words that no one really uses at all.  Or, it is something that I can’t understand at all.  It was excruciating for me since I had a hard time with Tagalog (my dialect is Bisaya, which is different from our Tagalog, the national language) and I did not enjoy the readings.  I’m not sure how the assigned reading situation is in that school, but it would be safe to assume that they wouldn’t be assigned to any of the current books.

Thoughts of banned books

I recently read about a mom who complained to the school about the assigned reading for her child’s school (I think there are a lot of articles on this, so I don’t need to elaborate) and all I have to say is that we didn’t have those parents.  Or maybe, our reading material has been ‘accepted’ because it was written by the national hero – or something.  I am all for children reading age appropriate books and when I was 15, I think those were appropriate.  The two books that we were assigned to read (Noli Me Tangere & El Filibusterismo) were controversial banned books when it was published in 1887 and 1891 respectively (more on this in future posts, hopefully).

What I’m trying to say it that books teach.  If they are controversial, chances are that they are about current issues that children need to read.  This is coming from someone who was not banned from reading anything at all and I thank my parents for not policing my reading material.  As a result, I was able to read anything I got my hands on.  I think this may be why I got to reading adult romance books at an early age (probably around 12 or 13).  Now I don’t have kids yet and I’m not sure I would want them to read adult romance with sexy times at the age of 12 but I would definitely make them read controversial books and read it with them and discuss it after.

Do you have any thoughts of children reading banned or controversial books?

Let’s discuss.


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