The Dreaded Class Novel OR how to kill reading pleasure.

At my school, we are in the process of deciding which novels to teach next year, 2010, which sounds like a date from the FUTURE to me, something from a science fiction text!

We run a class novel in every year group, with varying degrees of success. It always breaks my heart when students are casually discussing how little of these books they actually read. Some of them get by on classroom discussion, reading the bare minimum and hoping for the best.

It is always a trying process to find novels that all the teachers want to teach, that have some literary merit, aren't too adult and (as you might have gathered from my blog tagline) have strong, feisty teenage girls as central protagonists. There are lots of other criteria too: like some issues to discuss, the writing needs to be tight and the narrative satisfying. You're probably thinking it's a miracle that we find anything at all.

We had a lovely lot of books on appro from Westbooks and have enjoyed reading some of the latest YA ficiton. BUT nothing has leaped out yet.

What is your most hated class text?

Mine was taught by the most fearful headmistress, you know the kind: aging but still intimidating, formidable stare, terrifying habit of calling on you when you were dozy or unprepared. The novel was Bel Ria (something about a dog and a monkey apparently!) and her lessons consisted of reading a chapter out loud then setting questions that we would do for homework for her next lesson the following week. ALMOST killed my love of English, only saved by my regular teacher (think Miss Honey from Roald Dahl's Matilda.)

As a result, I try really hard not to kill a book with endless comprehension questions, and I try REALLY hard not to let teen apathy kill a book for me. My tens are struggling through To Kill A Mocking Bird right now, and I'm thinking of fun ways to teach it.

Ok, let me know which books were crucified for you by a teacher. Have you gone back to read it later? Or will it always be dead to you?

happy tales :)


  1. I hated Julie of the Wolves.... who knows, now I might enjoy it but the subject was soooo uninteresting to me when I was in 5th grade, lol!

  2. Hey Jenny,
    I can see why! The wikipedia entry described a character inducing a wolf to regurgitate some food... ewww!