The older I get, the more I think our literature teachers were playing a long game.
I remember some of the stories:
The Grapes of Wrath
The Old Man and the Sea
Seriously? How many teenagers would understand these? It’s not their fault. It takes years of living to appreciate them, years that they haven’t got yet.
But they will get their years soon enough, and when it’s time, some of those students will remember the stories they read when they were kids, and they will come back to them, now ready.
And those teachers…they’ll be long gone. Maybe they’ll still be remembered. We can hope so.
Not all the stories I read in school were meant for later. I remember one book in particular, The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi, introduced to our class by Mr. Patrick Sullivan. I have no idea how a book of short stories about a fictional village in post-war Italy made it onto the reading list for American high school students, but I have always been grateful. I enjoyed the stories then, and I still enjoy them now.
Mr. Sullivan was also the one who introduced us to To Kill a Mockingbird. What a lucky guy to have a job like that.