As the end of the year approaches, most students haven’t started thinking about their summer reading, but Country Day English teachers have.
Teacher Jane Bauman will use the same assignment she has given her freshman class for several years. Students choose three books and their corresponding movies from an eight-and-a-half-page-long list created by Bauman and revised every year. If students want to read something that isn’t on the list, they can email her for permission, she said.
The problem with some movie adaptations, Bauman says, is that “sometimes good books get a little too sexed up for the movie version and I have to exclude them.”
In addition to the assigned books, Bauman also encourages her students to read for fun by helping them put together summer reading lists in class. She will also discuss various methods of reading, such as Kindle books and audiobooks.
“I like audiobooks,” Bauman said. “It’s a way to fit [reading] into your life. I can multitask.”
Teacher Patricia Fels will assign “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro and “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger to her sophomore class.
“Never Let Me Go” is a work of dystopian fiction, a popular genre.
“I’m not a big fan of dystopian fiction in general,” Fels said. “But Ishiguro can write so well that ‘Never Let Me Go’ is excellent.”
Brooke Wells, head of high school, taught “The Catcher in the Rye” to his sophomore class, but it is a new addition to Fels’s curriculum. Although it was published in 1951, Fels considers it relevant and relatable to modern teenagers.
Fels will assign “This is How You Say Goodbye,” a memoir by Victoria Loustalot, ‘03, to her AP junior class for the second time. Loustalot will visit Fels’s class to discuss her book, as she did last year.
Fels will also assign a new book, a collection of short stories called “The UnAmericans,” by Molly Antopol. “The UnAmericans” discusses the difficulties faced by immigrants in the United States.
Teacher Ron Bell chooses a new Shakespeare play every year based on what is showing in Ashland, and this year both his junior and senior classes will read “Antony and Cleopatra.”
Otherwise, there are no changes to his curriculum.
The juniors will read “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” because it’s the most iconic American novel,” Bell said.
Bell will assign “Catch-22” to his senior class, and use the book to open a discussion about post-modernism and the definition of a novel.
“It’s annoying because it violates your expectations of what a novel is supposed to be,” said Bell. “So what are those expectations?
“It’s also a good example of the kind of modern art that sets out to break as many rules as possible while remaining recognizable as a genre of art.”