When it comes to suggested reading for high school students, any recommended high school reading list should be descriptive rather than prescriptive. Any reading lists college bound students must follow should be dynamic and fluid. In other words, titles should never be the precise mandatory, carved-in-stone list demanded of students year after year as they live in an ever changing world.
High School Reading Lists-Reading Lists College Bound Students Will Follow Must Be Flexible
Teachers should be able to teach material that is relevant to their students. Students should have access to excellent reading material that takes into consideration their ability level, maturity level and areas of interest. Provisions should enable them to incorporate more recently published books and those little gems that will greatly enhance units under study.
Prescriptive recommended lists are not always a good thing. However, students will benefit greatly from specific reading lists compiled for them by teachers, state experts, college professors and other professionals who recognize the value offered in specific texts as they prepare for college and life beyond academia.
States Work to Develop Reading Lists for the College Bound
All states seek to improve reading strategies for high school students. In 2002 the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction surveyed its English teachers and asked them to compile a list of works they taught at each grade level. Works included required works as well as enrichment and books used in independent study. Teachers, school systems and departments were allowed to develop the lists as they deemed helpful in delivering instruction to their students.
The NCDPI underscores that students should “read widely and deeply in all environments, in all genres, and in diverse traditions; they should read for different purposes, including entertainment, and they should be allowed to choose their own texts at least some of the time.”
High School Reading Lists Developed by Teaching Professionals Remain Valuable Tools
Keeping this strong belief in mind, teachers and students have still found the 2002 descriptive high school reading lists compiled by North Carolina public school teachers in 2002 enormously helpful, even though the lists themselves are buried so deeply within the NC Standard Course of Study website that they can be almost impossible to locate.
These lists, along with high school reading lists for the college bound, have enormous value to parents, teachers, homeschoolers and students as they attempt to fill in gaps in their own reading background and in searching for salient works in developing curricular units.
The responsibility for choosing materials for a classroom remains–as well it should–with the local school and individual teacher as she plans lessons to help meet local, state and federal requirements and to tailor those lessons to meet her students’ diverse academic needs. Teachers will find these lists helpful in constructing lessons as well as in leading students with diverse goals and interests in the right directions.
Suggested Reading for High School Students: Grades 9-12
Subsequent articles by this author will address works commonly taught in North Carolina High School English classes as they relate to these suggested reading lists, beginning with grade 9 and progressing through grade 12. Other articles will target supplemental works and recommended reading lists by other entities (such as Pearson, the College Board and other professional groups).
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction: Standard Course of Study-English Language Arts Resources