The Books Teachers Made Us Read

The older I get, the more I think our literature teachers were playing a long game.

I remember some of the stories:

Ethan Frome

The Grapes of Wrath

The Old Man and the Sea

King Lear

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.

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2 Responses to The Books Teachers Made Us Read

  1. kim jacobsen says:

    I agree. I don’t remember much about what I read in school, probably for the reasons you mention. I read The Grapes of Wrath, The Old Man and the Sea, and To Kill a Mockingbird as an adult and enjoyed them thoroughly. Sad to think that someone, as an adult, might say to themselves “I’ve already read that” and not pick it up again when they may actually really appreciate it at that point. By now I’ve read several of the classics, but have also been known to read such things as No Angel, the true story of Jay Dobyns, who infiltrates the inner circle of the Hells Angels for nearly 2 years of his career as a federal agent. Good stuff:) Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2014 09:53:28 +0000 To: kimmie41261@hotmail.com

  2. Charlie Close says:

    Teachers plant many seeds. Some grow and some don’t. You went back to the classics on your own and now they’re really yours.

    BTW, I re-read Ethan Frome recently. I was surprised at how good it was. Very suspenseful. Alfred Hitchcock would have nailed it.

    I read all kinds of things, including lots of non-fiction. I couldn’t read only classics. Hells Angels? Sounds like fun.

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