OPINION: Why classic literature shouldn’t be required in schools

By Amanda Schmelder

Classic literature written by Shakespeare and Dickens has been a staple in school curriculums for decades, but it’s time for a change.

One problem with only having classics in the curriculum is that there is a severe lack of diversity with the authors and characters. Almost all of the classics are written by white men and a few white women. According to the Stanford Daily, “90 percent of her high school literature curriculum was written by white men, 9 percent by white women, and just 1 percent by BIPOC authors.” 

Modern books also deal with more modern issues. This will make them more relatable to the students reading them and will make students relating what they’re reading to the real world easier. 

Having students choosing their books will make it easier for students to connect with the characters they’re reading about. As stated by Edutopia.org, “Many students felt like the books they were assigned at school didn’t reflect their experiences, and featured characters who didn’t look, think, or talk like them.” 

Students will also care more about what they are reading if they have a choice. If they can relate to the story more and feel they are represented, they will be more motivated to read and finish the book. 

While reading classic literature can have benefits like moral messages, critical thinking, and learning new vocabulary, these things can also be applied to more modern books. Moral messages can be taught in a way that students can understand. Students can also expand their vocabulary through reading modern literature, in a way that’s more natural and easier to understand. Critical thinking can be applied to all pieces of literature. 

Students having a choice of reading modern literature will encourage them to read more. They will enjoy reading more since they can relate to the characters and issues presented.

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