I love novels. I love reading them and I love talking about them and I love writing them. By day I'm a school teacher and of course part of teacher forums where people ask for help, ask questions and share resources. Lately there has been a debate about long novels being read in classes and I want to cry. You see some are arguing that the only good books for teaching are long texts like Shakespeare.
I love Shakespeare - I even managed to get to see my favourite play at the Globe. But there are some really amazing books that are a lot more modern. Why can't we do Terry Pratchett or Mercedes Lackey? Of course, these authors wouldn't be appropriate according to some as they are Fantasy and not serious enough for the deep level contextual interpretations needed for the exams.
I do wonder if the reason why some teachers think that the only book students will ever read in their lives will be in their class and so they have to pick something WORTHY is the reason that students don't read more. I'm dyslexic so reading wasn't easy for me. But I knew it was worth it because my teacher read books like BFG in class. When my brothers took me to the library and initiated me to the wonderful world of novels they took me to Andre Norton and David Eddings. Those amazing worlds drew me in with their awe and wonder. When teachers have texts in class, they are often dreary and deep.
We need to stop doing that. We need to have books in class that are amazing, not classics. Because the classics are problematic. You see, the people who decided which books were classics were white male academics. So my class that has over 50% ethnic diversity are alienated. The rest are usually 50% again female, who are also alienated.
So I'm all for novels in classrooms - just fun, awe-inspiring novels. There is another option though. Instead, what I prefer are short stories. If I alienate one group with one story, I can cater to them with the next one. No one is left out for very long and everyone feels like at least one of the texts speaks to them.
Many people don't realise that modern authors have also started making resources for teachers. So instead of getting mad at the teachers being novel snobs, I'm going to go find those amazing authors that have resources for teachers and post it on the forum. If you have any authors who you know do this, please send me a link.