Tag Archives: english

What are 13-year-olds reading?

17 Jan

The YA community is always abuzz with news of trends and ‘big books’, so much so that it can be hard to follow what’s in and what’s out. As we know, a large part of this trade is driven by adult consumers, but we must remember that YA also includes the Y part of the equation!

At the moment I teach five ‘literacy’ lessons a week to different classes, which includes time for silent, individual reading. Now that I work in a girls’ school, the majority of the pupils really enjoy having the chance to choose and read their own books (in a mixed environment, this was more challenging – there were many boys who liked to read, but some others found it hard to settle and focus for extended periods, or to find something that suited their interests – I highly recommend the Guinness Book of Records for such occasions). There are still one or two in my current classes who are reluctant, but as I always say, you can’t possible ‘hate all books’ – you just haven’t found the right one yet!

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to post a snapshot of what one class of 13-year-old girls were reading this week, to give some insight into how the younger teens are engaging with YA (or not, as the case may be – many of their books would be considered MG). The results are interesting, and may surprise some people – overall, they suggest that what kids really want is something familiar and comforting, and that new releases are not necessarily foremost in their minds.

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‘Spreading privilege’: Why Gove is taking us back in time

25 May

mockingbird

The internet is abuzz this morning with news that Michael Gove is set to remove popular U.S. texts such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘Of Mice and Men’ and ‘The Crucible’ from Britain’s GCSE English Literature syllabus. To those of us who have been following developments in English closely, this comes as no surprise. Last year I submitted an essay for my M.A. on this very topic: to what extent does the Government’s current ideology of the literature curriculum seek to impose an ‘official culture’? I offer here a highly edited version, which I feel is pertinent to today’s debate. In a nutshell: it’s all about official culture, and that culture does not belong to the ordinary people.

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