Reading in English class is imperative to your high school experience

Assigned books help students grow intellectually through their high school careers


Brittany Park

Many genres are assigned and read in West Linn High School English classes, most of them extremely beneficial to the students. Popular assigned titles include “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie and “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

Numerous West Linn High School students say that they don’t enjoy reading. This common opinion makes reading in English class very difficult for some students to complete.  Sometimes these assigned books are beyond boring, but most of the time, you will be assigned a book that can change your perspective on the world if only you put in the effort.

According to Barb Murray, English Department Chair, all of the West Linn-Wilsonville School District middle and high schools come together every seven years to revise which books are read in each grade. This helps the district to be able to cover subjects and themes which have not been covered before, to have variety, as well as keep classics in the curriculum.

“Teachers discuss the literary value of titles, interest from students, and what themes have not been covered in the past,” Murray said.

Each grade has a main, simplified theme decided on by the English department. Freshman year is identity, sophomore year focuses on justice, junior year has an eye towards American values in literature and senior year finishes high school with students learning about world values.

Books from freshman curriculum, including “Night” by Elie Wiesel and “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, explore the extreme and traumatic situations humanity has been put through. Learning and talking about these experiences are extremely important in each student’s development.

The only way for students to be able to benefit from this curriculum is if they stop trying to be “cool.” They have to read the books with no fear of being judged by others. This is the best way to experience all you can from lessons and curriculum that are specifically designed for each grade.

Reading “Night” was was an incredible experience for me. The things that Wiesel and his fellow Jews experienced in the holocaust were so beyond anything that I had ever lived through. It seemed like a twisted apocalyptic story, one that was so important for all of humanity to understand.

Working through the books like this in English class definitely made the experience more worthwhile for me, and others in the class. I am sure that I never would have read “Night” if it was not assigned to me in class, and I am certainly glad that it was.

Often it is seen as nerdy to like what you are learning in school. But students must get past that apprehension so they can experience the full effect of the book they are assigned. I know that investing in the learning and putting my time into the assigned books has has helped me to enjoy the experience and really learn something too. Who knows, if students really try this they might even end up liking it.

These books guide students’ through their journeys throughout their high school career, leaving them with an eye to the world and the future. The way that reading is planned in the curriculum will leave students better off than when they started, but only if they will be willing to put in the effort.