Most Popular Assigned Readings This Year (And Why Students Loved Them)

Assigned reading, while it often forces students to read books that they don’t enjoy reading, also prompts a deeper connection with the books that students read, and introduces people to books that they never would have read before. Students at Skyline are especially conscious of the new perspectives and literary lessons they gained from reading an assigned reading book, and many students reflect fondly on one or more books they read for their English classes that they enjoyed. Here are the most popular assigned reading books that studious Eagles have read this year, and why it made an impact on students.

 

Animal Farm by George Orwell

This satirical novella uses animals rising up against their owner to create an equal society as an allegory for communism, especially its dangers, as the leader of the animals assumes a dictator role. The book was loved especially by Skyline Freshmen because of its intrigue, deception and twists, and historical significance to the Russian Revolution. The valuable lessons of the book came from its anecdotal and fable-like nature, which caution against absolute power and the dangers of communism.

 

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

The novel, which is a series of vignettes, appears to be a memorial by the author of his time in the Vietnam War, his background, life, friendships, and the long-lasting effects of the war on his life, as well as the lives of the people he knew. However, one of the key points of the book is the presence of “truth” and “story-truth”—the former of which is what really happened, the latter of which only make sense in the context of the emotions that the author felt. The distinction is not always made clear, but the emotional core of the story is always delivered, through a unique writing style which embellishes nothing yet keeps the reader engaged. As one 11th Grader explains, “I liked his writing style, and how intimate we were able to be with the characters. It felt immersive.”

 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

The most popular book among Skyline 9th Graders, the novel is told entirely in verse and “takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.” Exploring themes on the effects of gun violence on the lives of the youth, one Freshman comments that the book “did a really good job in terms of showcasing a vicious cycle of violence in an easily digestible manner.” The poetry form reveals more for an in-depth analysis, yet is accessible to the average reader, and the story leaves off with an uncertain ending.

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Famous for being a traditional classic literature piece that students are often bored by, Gatsby found an intrigued audience with Skyline students this year. Many readers enjoyed the intersection of the idea of the “American Dream” and the seemingly rigid class and poverty divides in the U.S., which created a sense of cynicism supported by beautiful symbolism and character relationships.