Required Reading: Which book from your school days 
do you remember reading & enjoying? Is there a book published now 
that you’d like to see in today’s curriculum for kids?

Salt Grammar School, July 14th 2008
Salt Grammar School library
My school wasn’t very bookish. In fact, I probably only lost myself in reading out of sheer rebellion. It’s strange really, because we had an awesome library – it was a circular, one-roomed tower above a pond. Nobody used it though, and I mean nobody. I think I may have borrowed a book from there once and that was only because the crazy, pink-haired librarian wouldn’t let me edge away.

Anyway, not so much for the reading, even in class. I remember Jane Eyre was on the GCSE syllabus and our teacher just photocopied three pages because that was all we needed for the exam. We never even touched the damn book. It’s a shame, because I love that now.
My friend Caroline and I got so bored one day that we took the characters from Jane’s school and warped them into Kinky Sex Nun and Hardcore Bondage Priest. Then we wrote a story about them and accidentally handed it in to OFSTED. Yeah, we were a strange couple of 14 year olds…
When they couldn’t avoid making us read an entire piece, it was usually either a play or something short. I really liked An Inspector Calls but I still hate Of Mice and Men to this day. I’d much rather have read something longer (and better, ideally).
I’d like actual books to be read in school. None of that photocopying crap – schools just wouldn’t be told which bits were relevant, so they’d have to teach the entire thing. I’d use the classics as much as possible – The Scarlet Pimpernel or Pride and Prejudice maybe. They’re both fairly accessible for children. 


  1. I wonder if you studied selections from The Anthology for GCSE English. We did for the poetry module, and my English set was the only one to actually study a novel instead of a few little bits of prose from The Anthology. (Lord of the Flies.) I didn't love that book, but I was glad to have a proper book to get my teeth into. The Anthology felt like cheating. I was always destined to be a literature nerd.

    Also, we studied a playscript version of To Kill A Mockingbird, and the actual novel is so much better.

    1. Hanna says:

      We did for the poetry module too, but not the prose. Was yours war poetry or something? I hated it anyway. I've never been a big fan of poetry anyway, but the ones chosen were so dreary and boring.

      There's no way we could have done To Kill A Mockingbird. Our year wasn't nearly mature or intelligent enough.

  2. Caroline says:

    I am speechless with utter horror at the three photocopied pages of Jane Eyre thing – that teacher ought to be deeply ashamed of him/herself.

    Did have a little giggle at your Kinky Nun/OFSTED story though – brilliant!

  3. Meredith says:

    Wow! It's sad that there are schools who don't really even make an effort to get kids into reading. I'm glad you got into reading after high school! 🙂


    1. Hanna says:

      I've always been into reading – before, during and after high school! It was just irritating that I seemed to be the only one who was.

  4. That is a cool library! My schools did require you to read whole books, but it was pretty easy to get around reading them. I didn't read too much in high school, but I wish that I had read a lot more back then.

    Andrea (Old Follower) 😉
    My FF/TGIF

  5. I was lucky I was in the top set for English at school (probably becasue I've always been a book geek!) so we read the whole of Lord of the Flies though we only did bits of Great Expectations in amongst watching film versions. I guess there is only so far you can push 16 year olds to read. I liked the rhytham & imagery of the war poetry though, especially the long poems that tell a story. I just can't help myself 🙂

    1. Hanna says:

      I was in the top set too, and we STILL only read three pages of Jane Eyre! We may have watched the film though, now you mention it.

      I wish we'd done Lord of the Flies, I love that book now 🙂

  6. Jean says:

    I went to a rotten high school, but they did make us read whole books. That's the first time I've ever found anything good about that school! I had a terrible attitude; though I was a complete bookworm and read all the time, I never voluntarily touched anything with the label 'classic' on it. Not even Little Women or Jane Eyre.

    I like the idea of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I'll make my daughter read that next year, when she does that bit of history! (Right now she has to read a storybook version of the Faerie Queene. *insert evil laugh here*)

    1. Hanna says:

      The Faerie Queene? What kind of awful school inflicted that on her? :p

      I love the Scarlet Pimpernel, but then I was interested in the French Revolution even before. It's great for a slightly broader, general understanding and it's a wonderful story too.

    2. Jean says:

      Hey, it's a storybook version! In prose. And *I'm* the inflictor–I read it too. This year is medieval/Renaissance history, so she has read Beowulf (storybook version), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Tolkien translation), some Canterbury Tales, King Arthur, Robin Hood (both Roger Lancelyn Green), and so on. I'm on the lookout for an easy version of Dante's Comedy…

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