Glance at high school summer reading lists across the United States and you are likely to find more recent authors such as Alice Sebold, Walter Dean Myers, and even Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong alongside Dickens and the BrontÃ« sisters.
The Monitor prints reading lists from varous parts of the country. No Dickens at all. One list has a second-string book by DaVinci Code author Dan Brown; another features Barack Obama’s pre-campaign biography, Audacity of Hope .
Books featuring teen-agers are popular.
“So what catapults Life of Pi and The Lovely Bones to the elusive reading list club? Both are bildungsromans, or stories of young people coming of age. (English Professor Aileen) Nilsen says this theme is crucial for reading list inclusion, as youth need to feel a connection to the literature.
Actually, The Lovely Bones is a coming-of-death book narrated by a ghostly victim of a serial rapist-killer. I wouldn’t recommend it to young readers — or to parents. Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, another reading list favorite, is an excellent book but includes homosexual rape. These aren’t beach books.
Update: Teachers are assigning too many hard-to-read classics, argues teacher Patrick Welsh in USA Today.