Policy on Book Selections

Please know that I take book selections seriously. When crafting a class, I’m careful to choose an array of classic and contemporary works written by a diverse group of people. I want to expose students to enduring ideas and various writings styles while also providing opportunities to have them read something they wouldn’t normally choose for themselves. One thing I hear over and over again EVERY year is, “I didn’t think I’d like this book, but it’s been my favorite so far.”

I have two guiding principles: 1) No books with gratuitous, unnecessary violence, and 2) no books with graphic, descriptive adult content.

That being said, I do assign books that deal with heavy issues, such as prejudice (American Born Chinese), racism (The Help, Kindred, and To Kill a Mockingbird), infidelity (The Great Gatsby), war (Night and Between Shades of Gray), and death (Into the Wild, The Last Lecture, and A Monster Calls). We read books that suspend our disbelief (Life of Pi and Frankenstein), keep us on our toes (Rebecca and And Then There Were None), and make us pause to consider what we truly believe about life (The Great Divorce and The Secret Life of Bees). We read poetry and plays, which we always perform in class. We talk about everything.

Click here and you’ll find a detailed list of books, short stories, and poems I’ve chosen over the years that show up in regular rotations across four different English classes. The harder topics are usually reserved for the older, more mature students.

It has been my experience that literature provides an ideal avenue to deal with tough topics, certainly when compared to learning about them through the internet and social media. While I don’t believe in banning books, I do believe in a parent’s right to decide what will be read (or not be read) in their own home.

As always, I recommend that parents either pre-read books before their students do or read them alongside their students. If you ever have questions, be in touch.