Classics should be replaced with modern literature

Tisya Singh, Online Editor

Most of us are familiar with the many classic texts required in high school English classes: “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Lord of The Flies,” and countless others. As someone who enjoys reading, I try to have a positive attitude about classics. Even so, it’s often difficult to understand the text or find it engaging. I can only imagine how students that don’t like to read feel about, one, being forced to read, and two, having to read something that they’re most likely not going to understand or find relatable in English class. 

Noticeably, students are feeling an increasing disconnect to books. Fewer and fewer teens are reading outside the classroom, and it’s correlated with the types of books that are required in school. When assigned classics such as The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird, both of which are set in the early to mid-1900s, students often find the text difficult to comprehend as they are written in a language and style that’s much different than what most teens are accustomed to. In addition, most classics are intended for an adult audience, further making it harder for students to comprehend. 

These difficulties in classic texts often lead students to take shortcuts, such as using SparkNotes, for their reading assignments. In this case, they are seeking summaries that are written in a modern format, which means they are not truly capturing the essence of the classic writing style. When students are actually interested in a story, they are more likely to complete the reading and participate in class discussions and assignments, therefore learning more from the text. 

Many claim that classic novels should remain in high school English curriculums because their lessons are timeless. While this may be true, there are also recent novels that contain the same important themes. Even better, they’ve been adapted to include present-day information that is more relatable to readers.

Some also say that the messages of old novels can be applied to the modern world, but that isn’t what they were intended for. They weren’t written for the future but for the time period during which they were written. Although the main concepts can be adapted to apply to the current day, it’s better to select novels by authors who are living in the same modern society as their readers. Those who understand and have experienced the problems of present-day society.

Classic books are definitely classics for a reason, but compared to the enriching entertainment received from social media and other online platforms, they are boring to high school students. In order to have students learn and engage more thoroughly with assigned texts, English classes should switch to more modern literature.