Bias Towards Mandatory School Books

There is a well-known theory that kids become automatically biased towards books that they are forced to read in class. That may be true for kids who don’t love reading. Maybe having reading assignments made them dislike books? Or maybe they didn’t like reading to begin with and school just made them hate it more?

That’s not what I’m here to discuss.

What I really want to know is how you book lovers felt about reading in class. 

I loved it when the teacher stopped talking about whatever and I was allowed to pull out a book. Of course, I preferred to choose my reading material, but I remember times that I was eager to read an assigned book.

For instance, I can’t say why, but I distinctly remember enjoying The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Also among the books I enjoyed were Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

These were the books that actually had a lasting impact on me. Some of them are even still on my shelf. Do you remember reading them in school?

I wasn’t automatically biased toward a book just because my teacher handed it to me. However, there were some I remember intensely disliking. I didn’t dislike them because they were assigned, they just weren’t my…cup of tea. (Notice my polite avoidance of the word “hate”.)

What’s the book that I remember disliking the most? A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Though, to be fair, I was going through a lot that year. It’s possible that this book was just a casualty of a tough semester, but I’d rather not give it another try.

Other examples of assigned reading that I didn’t enjoy: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Pearl by John Steinbeck, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

No matter how much I disliked a books, I powered through. I bite my cheek, I read it or thoroughly skimmed it at the very least, and I passed the quizzes without complaining.

And I prayed that the next assigned book would be better. It usually was.

Is this some kind of unnatural phenomena or are there others out there who have fond memories of reading classroom-assigned books? I have a sinking feeling in stomach that there aren’t a lot of us. Maybe we should throw a pizza party during our lunch period to celebrate!

A book in one hand, a piece of pizza in the other…there’s nothing better than that 🙂 .



One thought on “Bias Towards Mandatory School Books

  1. I think that not all books are great. Even if people – en masse – treat them as if they are. (Why do we torture children with Hemingway?!?!)

    However, it’s up to the teacher to frame books to make them interesting. You can’t just flop a book on a desk and announce, “Read it!”

    Pull the stuff that will hook them in and make them search for it. Don’t overburden them with the stuff that will link misery to reading.

    In a world of 140 characters, we have to foster a love for 149(+) pages.


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