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Fiza Pathan’s Classics: Why We Should Encourage Children to Read Them is a monograph and memoir. In this book, Pathan draws upon her personal experiences, both as a young reader and as a teacher herself. Today, some studies have indicated that young people are reading less, and when they are, they are increasingly reading paranormal romance books. Indeed, many school districts are phasing out classic novels from their literature courses. Pathan’s book uses her own educational background and her work as a teacher to show the relevance of classic fiction in the classroom today.
I should state my bias in this review, because I strongly agree with Pathan’s central assertions and her belief that students need to read classic books. Pathan’s reading list (containing books like Dracula, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and many Dickens novels, just to name a few), is an excellent starting point– I have no problem with any of the books on her list, although there are scores of other great novels that could be added to the shelves of young readers. Some of the books recommended by Pathan are often saved for high school students, though I concur with her belief that intelligent children can read some of these books before middle school.
At one point Pathan mentions that it is sometimes difficult for young readers to find unabridged versions of the classics. Currently, most of the classic books Pathan mentions are in the public domain, and therefore easily downloadable for free for students with computers and e-readers. For those young readers who are fortunate enough to have access to these devices, it’s a new world where the classics can be accessed for nothing, and stored neatly inside a single electronic object.
There are a couple of small problems with this book, including multiple errors of grammar, such as missing words and sentence fragments. One of Pathan’s appendices contains some of her students’ essays. It would have been interesting to read more about how Pathan goes about grading literary essays. Some more sample discussion questions and additional means of getting students to talk in class might also be appreciated– the list and educational tips Pathan provides are very helpful, though I'd like to see even more.
I highly recommend this book for teachers who educate young children, librarians working with young people, and parents who want their kids to receive a full education. Concerned parents and teachers might also benefit from consulting Pathan’s monograph when speaking to school boards and similar organizations about class reading curriculums.
I give this book three out of four stars.
Buy "Classics: Why we should encourage children to read them" on Amazon
The smart solution is to create a definitive list of more classics and worthwhile books than they can possibly read, publish it and allow them to tick off the ones they're read, give them a score based on multiple criteria and compare their list with their friends' lists.
Facebook generation needs a facebook solution.
– George R. R. Martin
"I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
Of Mice and Men - lower level classes love this book, easy to read, thought provoking themes, I've had students who never engaged in class who debated passionately about George's final solution
Othello MacBeth - boys especially seem to like thiese two plays, never seem to miss unlike Hamlet, king Lear and Romeo an Juliet,which are sometimes well received and other times must be gotten through as quickly as possible
All Quiet on the Western Front
Animal Farm- i've had several classes where students, mainly boys, took on the animal personas and role played with them the whole semester
Turn of the Screw
Great Expectations - never had a university level class that has not loved this book, lower level students liked it, but I must admit we used an abridged version with them
Classics that have gone over like the proverbial lead balloon
Little women - tried once, cut it short because even I could no longer see what had attracted me to it
To Kill A Mocking bird - maybe because I teach in Canada, but have tried this book with three advanced level classes and they've all not just disliked it, but found it difficult to understand why we were even reading it
I'm torn between thinking school is the best place to introduce kids to the classics and thinking that it should be used to entice them to read anything. Books have a lot of competition these days and people aren't reading as much as they used to. Maybe a nice mix of current books as well as classics to give a broad introduction to what's out there would be best?