Woke Teachers Are Ditching the Best Books
Ideology over quality is the rule of the day when selecting summer reading.
A hundred teachers, librarians, and other educators participated in a School Library Journal (SLJ) and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) poll on summer reading material for middle and high school students.
Summer reading lists are meant to fight the inevitable loss of academic gains that students experience over the nine-week-long break from school. This “summer slide” is a well-documented norm that all students go through despite the best efforts of parents and teachers. Summer reading lists usually incorporate some contemporary easier reads and some classic, more difficult reads.
The educators were asked two questions: Which books would they like to strip from the summer reading lists? And what books would they use instead? The results of this very limited poll (remember, only 100 people had a say) reflect a disturbing trend that we have seen in our education standards.
According to the poll, here are the top 10 books that should be removed from the summer reading lists: To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee; Shakespeare’s Works — an anthology of plays by the Bard; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; Hatchet by Gary Paulson; Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton; Lord of the Flies by William Golding; The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck; Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain; and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Honorable mentions include Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and George Orwell’s 1984.
Some of the reasons behind the educators wanting to remove these books were because students didn’t find them relatable and they were “white”-centered, flat-out racist, and some of them talk about the dangers of Big Government dictating every aspect of a person’s life. All of them were written by white authors, and all of these books are considered classics of Western literature.
To be considered a classic work, a book must be well written and/or have been an influence on the culture. Shakespeare alone is a pillar of Western literature dealing with issues that are at once timeless and displaying a keen understanding of the human condition. Mark Twain and Laura Ingalls Wilder captured the American experience of their time period, encapsulating it in words for as long as their books are read. This writer can attest to the quality of these books, having read all but two. The voices from these authors influence literature and the greater culture as a whole.
To replace these works, here are the 10 titles that the poll suggested as replacements: New Kid by Jerry Craft; The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley; Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds; Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X, Kendi; The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo; All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely; Born a Crime by Trevor Noah; Front Desk by Kelly Yang; and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez. All of these books have strong social justice themes and are written by more diverse authors. They are, presumably, easier reads with more contemporary, relatable material.
Based on the Amazon summaries of these titles — this author has not read a single one of the new recommendations — the content seems dark, despairing, and has an obvious political agenda. Even the one book that seemed more lighthearted deals with hiding illegal immigrants. With author names like Ibram X. Kendi, though, it is fairly clear that the motivation is to indoctrinate and to replace quality, challenging literature with books whose purpose is to drive home a political narrative.
This poll may not seem like much of a threat. It’s only a summer reading list. Unfortunately, the influence of these teachers’ “expertise” could very quickly go down the slippery slope of book banning. Their reasons might be noble on the surface: They want to give students more choice, they want to provide easier material to readers, or they want to give a different perspective on a classic they’ll read later in the year. They’ll say, “Don’t worry, parents, we’re teaching them the same ideas and themes, just expressed in a more contemporary package.” Don’t be fooled. Banning the “offensive” classic books will be because of political implications and not for educational reasons.
This very issue of ideological grooming is why parents are up in arms with school libraries and why woke teachers push material on their children for the purposes of forcing their political views on the children in their care. Critical race theory is only one piece of the toxic puzzle; parents have discovered books that confront their children with gang rape, explicit sexual content, LGBTQ+ content, and pedophilia.
Clearly, these woke teachers and librarians aren’t interested in opening minds. Their book choices have shown they are intent on darkening them all in the name of “anti-racism” and “empathy.”
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