Should English Class Reading Lists Be Updated?

Frankenstein is one of the older books that are on the reading list for some English classes at Los Alamitos High School.

Photo Courtesy of Culver.lib

Frankenstein is one of the older books that are on the reading list for some English classes at Los Alamitos High School.

Nicole Ginaven, Staff Writer

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A lot of the books we read in English class are outdated, and possibly old enough that our parents read them when they were in high school.  Some people believe the English classes’ reading lists should be redone, and have newer, more modern books put on them. There are advantages to keeping or discarding the old reading lists, so which would be better for our education?

On one hand, the current books on the lists are from years ago, and some of them are hard to understand because they are written in old English.  For most people, this form of English is hard to understand and very difficult to analyze. Updating the reading lists would allow people to comprehend and analyze the books easily, and possibly motivate students to put more work into their English class.  Many students give up when they are not able to understand the book they are reading, and do not try to analyze it or do the work assigned with it, so having them read more modern books could raise the amount of work people put into their English classes. Also, there is severe under-representation of women and people of color in older books, unless the plot revolves around them.  Updating the reading lists could expose students to more diverse characters and not have them read about white men every year.

However, there are also advantages to keeping the old reading lists.  For one, historical books are important for us to learn about important times in history, such as the Civil Rights Movement and different wars like the World Wars and the Civil War.  These are important times to be educated on, and these books are good for us to read. Also, some of these old books have vital life lessons that apply to us even to this day and age, and though the book has aged the deeper meaning of the text has not.  These are also good for us to read.

Most likely, these reading lists will stay the same for a long time in the future.  However, it is important to think about these things and debate whether or not it would be better to update the books on the lists- whether it be the entire list, or just some of the books on it.