I am a high school intern at Boone County Public Library. Because Required Reading Isn’t So Bad written by BCPL’s Community Events Liaison was such a hit, they asked me to write on the same topic, but from a teen’s perspective.
As a student currently finished with all my required English courses until I graduate high school, I have read many required books for my different classes. Some books were okay, some books put me to sleep, but some books changed my way of thinking. I am the kind of girl who enjoys reading in her spare time, yet somehow it is another story when it’s for a grade. These books defied that and have stayed with me long after I read them.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb – My sophomore English class was focused on world leaders, so when we started reading I am Malala, I knew from the start this was going to be a fascinating read. I thought it was crazy that a girl my age was a key player in Pakistani women’s rights. While my biggest worries were what to wear to homecoming or the next math test coming up, Malala had much bigger concerns like being wanted by the Taliban. Her strength and faith were astonishing to me as she went through hardships no one should face at her age, all for the greater good. The fact that she would literally die for Pakistan at my age was inspiring.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – From the start I was excited to read this book. There was a certain draw to it when we learned that some schools banned it from their libraries for its word choice, but that quickly faded out and we were drawn for a different reason. It was one thing to learn about the Jim Crow laws and the unfair way African Americans were treated, but a whole other reality when Harper Lee and her character Atticus Finch opened the readers’ eyes to just how bad it was.
The Giver by Louis Lowrey – This book was a middle school read, but it sparked something in me that has stayed with me ever since. The Giver is set in a society based on total equality, emotional, physical, mental equality. It was crazy to think about a world where people weren’t taught history, couldn’t have emotions, and weren’t allowed to be different. This book gave me a new appreciation for our freedoms and diversity in our culture.
The Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles – Ancient Greek plays and stories always fascinated me for some reason, so when my class required me to read Oedipus, it was more interesting than grueling. I enjoy sending my mind to a place so unrealistic it’s almost funny, yet the morals still strike home. This trilogy had many lessons in just three plays including: fate cannot be escaped no matter how far you run, stand for what is right, and when literally everyone is telling you not to do something you probably shouldn’t do it (*cough* Creon). While the series of plays are written as a tragedy, the story as a whole was enjoyable and entertaining.
The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson – This book hit different. Before I read this book, I always thought what happened in World War II was terrible, but I didn’t understand just how cruel life was for Jews. This book broke my heart for a boy who lived during this time and all that he went through because of his family’s religion. The part that hurt me the most was knowing that this is a true story; Leyson writes his memoir on all that he went through during this terrible time in his life.
I have found that while some required reads aren’t as notable as the ones above, there is always a reason why the teacher wants us to read them. If you are struggling through a required read right now, try thinking about all the people who wanted you to understand the message the book is conveying. All else fails: SparkNotes!
Amy Hendrix is an intern at Boone County Public Library, a senior at Ignite Institute, a nature enthusiast, and the best water skier she knows!