Monday, March 29, 2010

3 books to read before graduation

Managing Editor Laura Kessel received a note in the mail recently that included a page from NEA Today. It listed an educator's pick of the three books students should read before graduating.

The Idaho man selected the J.D. Salinger classic "Catcher in the Rye," "Mountains Beyond Mountains," Tracy Kidder's inspirational book about a doctor who brings medical care to the poor around the world, and "Nectar in a Sieve," Kamala Markandaya's look at the power of family ties to overcome.

I'm not familiar with the latter two, but it's hard to argue with the inclusion of Salinger.

I have a hard time picking three. I think there's at least 10 times that number of works that should be read by students before they graduate high school.

That being said, my list would include:

"The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, for its themes about sin and the effects of sin and its messages about perseverance and dignity in the face of adversity.

"Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott, for its characterizations of women and its family ties theme.

"My Sister's Keeper," by Jodi Picoult, for its provocative themes regarding medical decisions and family relationships, and as proof that good novels still are being written.

The letter writer's (retired Euclid educator Dan Maxson) list included:

" 'Old Man and the Sea' ... loved the perseverance of Santiago and the message/allegorical nature of the novella - have reread it many times over the years.

'Five People You Meet in Heaven' ... loved the premise and the fact that it was a topic that students never dealt with in other courses, books read - great possibilities for dialogue.

'The Giving Tree' by Shel Silverstein ... it's a great little allegory."

What books would you pick?

- Tricia Ambrose


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