[Bloggers In The Attic] Sunday Tea: Required Reading

The Bloggers in the Attic is a discussion chain. And what is a discussion chain? Well, it’s pretty simple and with few steps.

Me and other eleven bloggers united together to discuss a common topic, covering the whole arc of February, and sharing our unique perspective. I created the initiative with the wish to create a discussion space that could explore a normal topic for different part of the world.

The rules to participate are pretty simple. So, if you ever wish to take part in the future discussion, please just comment under Camilla’s introduction and first post. Every topic will be discussed bi-monthly, so the next round will be up in April. There’s plenty of time to join in, but the best option is always to enter early. Also, take a look to the group banner!

Learn more about Camilla’s discussion chain in her post (The Bloggers in the Attic ||Social issue and required reads in Italy) here!  Also, don’t forget to check out the previous post in the chain from Isabelle @ Bookwyrm Bites and the next one on the 12th from Dany @ Dany’s Book Blog

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The Journey Began With My Mom

Coming from a homeschooled than charter school background, required reading has been a part of my educational journey since I first began to learn to read. My parents (especially my Mom) were adamant that their children would learn to love the written word, and from a very young age we were handed books instead of games to pass away the boredom.

From Pre-K all the way to my sophomore year of High school I was homeschooled by my Mother along with my two other siblings. Due to this, my Mom assigned us from the moment we were getting hooked on phonics to monthly book reviews. We were required each month to read one book (at first of our own choosing unless we gave her sass, then she chose the book) and then write an essay/review about the book and what we got out of it.

Needless to say, I was not a fan.

I hated reading. I hated it to my very core, and my hatred to the act just got even more amplified when I was forced to read. If you can’t tell by now, out of my siblings and I–I was the one who got a book chosen for them every month. I hated the notion that we were forced to do something that we didn’t really want to do in the first place. I didn’t want to sit and read words, but rather I wanted to go outside and live those adventures through my imagination and then write them myself.

It wasn’t until I was 10 years old, that my Mom got fed up with my antics and shoved The Left Behind series at me and told me it was either the first book or the second book in the series. Those were my options and if I mouthed off I would have to read all 12 books in the series in one month and be grounded for another 3 months (yeah I was a shitty kid). Thinking I was being a rebel and sticking one to the man, I opted for book two. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that this book would open my eyes to the realms that reading had to offer.

I was hooked.

Required Reading Shaped Me For The Better

The reading bug hit me and I have never looked back since. Because of my Mom’s persistence with required reading, I fell in love with the magic of storytelling more so than I have had before.

When I entered regular school for the first time in my entire life in 10th grade, I was hesitant with the notion of being forced to do something that I didn’t want to again; however, the required reading I was given opened my eyes to different subjects and genres that I, personally, would have never read in the first place. It shaped not only the things that I read, but it also expanded my worldview and my perception of the world in ways that I couldn’t conceive without it. I fell in love with the Science Fiction that my father talked so fondly of when we watched television together. I fell in love with the writings of Ray Bradbury and Edgar Allen Poe; the way that they interweaved societal issues within their stories, and used their talents to voice their opinion and their imagination.

The use of required reading in my educational journey as I took all AP English courses, pushed me to read outside of my comfort zone and put myself into worlds and perspectives that altered who I am today. Some of my greatest academic achievements were inspired by the works I was required to read. Such as my mini thesis on the relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg from the Epic Moby Dick.  My life’s dreams were inspired by the creations of Shakespeare, Homer, and Andrew Marvelle, as I fell in love with the stories they told through their novels, plays, and poems. Their adventures and raw emotion moved me to wanting to express those through theatre which led me to majoring in Drama, TV, Film performance with a minor in Screen and Play writing.

My Thoughts

I am firm believer, that required reading is something that should be enforced in all academic circles, solely because of how much it shaped my life. Required reading gives us chance to try something we would never have tried before–opening a gate to new and wondrous things. I am glad for the experiences I had with required reading, both the good and the bad (looking at you, Great Gatsby) because it was those that made me obsessed with storytelling and gave me enough courage to tackle telling my own stories in hopes that what I have to say will change someone else like the ones before did for me.

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What are your experiences with Required Reading? Do you think it should continue being implemented in schools?

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25 thoughts on “[Bloggers In The Attic] Sunday Tea: Required Reading

  1. It is true that Required Reading can force us outside of our boundaries, and I like the thought of it, I just struggle with their choices for required reading sometimes.

    I love the story of your mom forcing you to read and your spite leading to a reading epiphany. ❤

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  2. I love that you fell in love with reading almost in spite of yourself! 😂

    What you said helped me clarify my own thoughts, in a way. Required reading gets a bad rap, but it has the potential to be a way to get young people to expand their perspective. I firmly believe it’s important, but that the kinds of books assigned need to be constantly reassessed, rather than just forcing kids to read the same old classics for generations.

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    1. I agree! Literature is constantly changing and shifting; because of this–so should we! However, I don’t think we should write off the classics entirely, because these literary works became classics for a reason–whether that be the topics they discuss or their literary merit. I believe we have these books for a reason and we should know those reasons, however I do think we should continually reassess our material just as we reassess ourselves/society.

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  3. Hey Sam!
    I loved reading your thoughts on this topic. When I was in school, any book that was “required reading” was automatically dull and boring for me haha. However, thinking back, this did introduce me to many books that I would not have read otherwise (for example, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Joseph Conrad) and pushed me outside my comfort zone. So I think overall required reading is a good thing 🙂

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  4. I agree with you wholeheartedly! I found some of my favorite books through required reading ( Fahrenheit 451 anyone???) And as much as I didn’t like everything I read I feel like I’m a better person for it (as well as a better reader and writer).

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  5. ahahaha I love your mom’s approach 😂 On the opposite, I was quite an easy kid; still am, I never really went to a “rebel teenager” phase… only time I was bad was when my mental illnesses went down that I’d become more irritable before I got prescribed my meds.

    Aww I love how this was a great experience for you overall; surely your mom enforcing it while home-schooling you and your siblings helped alot when it came to “regular” schooling ! I get why you would think we should enforce required reading because of your experiences, though I feel like the little black duck of the gang and looking back; the major reasons why I NEVER read any of them was simply because I couldn’t understand written english at the time .. Even within my classmates, I was the only one who took so late to understand our english second language and always behind.

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  6. Your mom sounds like she knew what she was doing. I love it when parents are supportive of their children reading and encourage them to read more! Like when people ask ‘why I read so much’ I tell them because I grew up with it – my parents read to me at an early age and then I just kept on reading.

    I think required reading can be fun based on the book and how much patience/interest the student has. And there will be set books that not every student likes, and that’s okay because everyone has their own interests and all.
    Required reading should stay in schools, that I do agree with. But I also think it needs to be revamped every few years to include new books and new ideas/new genres. Since not everyone reads the exact same books, including a variety of genres will help more students create and foster a love of reading.

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  7. I rarely hear about people with bookdragon parents growing up hating reading, but I can definitely see why being forced to read (especially specific books) would make you resentful! though I find it particularly interesting that at the same time you were an imaginative budding writer – I’d always thought of that as the kind of kid who ends up a reader 🤔

    confession: I couldn’t get through more than the first few pages of Moby Dick 😅 I love the premise and what I know of the story, but the writing style was a huge stumbling block for me. but I absolutely agree that’s it’s great that required reading pushes us out of our comfort zones – at the very least, it helps you realize what you do and don’t like to read, and hopefully makes you aware of how differently the same story can affect multiple people! 💕

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  8. *tries to picture smol rebel Sam* no I just can’t unless it’s trying to read smut at work phahahaha. I have a love hate relationship with required reading, mostly because of my GCSE’s >.>

    However I think it’s something that should still be enforced, I just think we should be able to have more variety in terms of books we get “forced” to read. Ever since I was a kid, I was the one reading. Like I can sum my entire childhood up with this: Reading, books, talking to the characters from books as if they were real, a dash of TV and Disney along with a sprinkling of Playstation games.

    My childhood was reading and my mum already had books waiting for me to read hehe. I was never forced to read or anything, I remember one time I walked into my parents bedroom and my mum was reading an Enid Blyton book it was the first one in The Farwaway Tree series I got salty that she was reading without me.

    My dad also read these books to me, mind I’ve not finished the series yet but it’s Enchantica and I loved the illustrations. Which for me, was saying something as a kid I hated books with illustrations in them. I wanted WORDS because I liked imagining things instead of being told/shown what they looked like. Enchantica was an exception haha.

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  9. I had no idea that you were homeschooled, Sam, and your perspective was really interesting to reading! I love that your mom kept pushing and persisting, and LOL at her threatening you with being grounded if not reading. My parents didn’t really care, but they supported my reading habits. tbh they didn’t really know what to do with me.

    and I agree – required reading definitely forces us to challenge our reading and try new things, and for that I am eternally grateful. I just wish they… idk, modified the books a bit to be a little modern, too. in many ways it turns people off completely from reading, and I think there’s room for improvement on the perspectives & narratives we read in the classroom.

    Great post!

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    1. Hahaha yup all the way to sophomore year of HS I was a homeschool kid, 😀

      I agree with you! I do think the reading list should be branched out, to include more genres and recently published titles. I feel like required reading is the chance for us to get kids to fall in love with story telling, so in order to relate to the different masses we need stories that can do so–so much agreeing to modifying the list of reads!

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  10. My thoughts on Required Reading are a little complicated. I think it’s a great thing in theory … I just never read a single thing that I was supposed to. Similar to you I hated being told what to read, but I was already a big reader. I was practically glued to the pages, but I couldn’t stand having to read the books for school. It wasn’t even a conscious decision not to, I was a major goody-two-shoes. But I just couldn’t get myself to read past a few pages. Didn’t matter if I actually enjoyed the book. So even though it didn’t really do much for me, I still do think it’s a good thing. I loved discussing books and analyzing them.
    I loved reading about how the persistence of your mother finally got you to love reading! And it’s amazing to see how much it actually shaped you

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