No More Crime and Punishment: Engaging Your Modern Students with Classic Literature by Meredith Sizemore

The youth would be lost without literature.

Nerdy Book Club

In the last decade, there has been conversation amongst teachers about replacing classic literature with modern texts and encouraging free-choice reading in the classroom. I’ve personally witnessed the transition between being a high school student to teaching high school students. However, in 2003, when I entered high school, I was different from most high school students today: I loved literature. I swooned for Shakespeare’s language in Hamlet, I was thrilled by Ray Bradbury’s futuristic world in Fahrenheit 451, and I cried for Lennie in Of Mice and Men.

Today, most high school students think reading classics is a Crime and Punishment. I’ve heard students’ reasons range from, “It’s too hard,” to “It’s just old,” to “It’s boring.” Teens would much rather be reading something that is relevant to their generation and their current interests. They’d rather be thrilled by zombies, vampires, and cancer-ridden kids than War…

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