I’m not going to argue that these texts are ‘worthy books’ as such, though some of them are great works. Some I’ve included because I think the pupils will enjoy them. (I teach 11 – 18 year old boys, by the way.) In fact, Oranges from Spain was written by Northern Irish author David Park who is also a teacher. He was teaching Treasure Island to a group of students and realised they were completely bored. Therefore he wrote this collection of short stories which deal with teenagers growing up in the North.
The books we engage with when teenagers stick with us all our lives. Each stage of my education is marked by one book in particular that spoke to me in a way others didn’t: as a child Leon Garfield’s John Diamond; as a teenager, SE Hinton’s The Outsiders and Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby; at university, The Name of the Rose. As an adult, I revisit the books of James Lee Burke frequently.
I suppose what I’m wondering is, if you could choose one book that isn’t ordinarily taught in school to be added to the curriculum, what would it be and why? And furthermore, are there any books you’d like to see removed from school reading lists? Personally, I could happily survive a few terms without Thomas Hardy…'