Required reading lists: real or myth?

Good morning/afternoon/evening, fellow bookworms!

Now one thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people online (I’ll be honest, this is mainly from reading captions on Bookstagram posts) seem to have “required reading lists” from their schools. But that wasn’t a thing when I was at school…not at my school, anyway.

If you’ve read my post from a few days ago (a rant about a library that wasn’t a library), you’ll know that, in my opinion, my old secondary school had some odd ideas about things. Mainly the library.

So I wasn’t sure if it was just my old school that didn’t seem to have required reading lists. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as though we never read books in school, it’s just that we were never given a list of books that we had to read or even a list of recommended books relevant to a subject.

In my first year of secondary school, I remember our English teacher telling us that we had to always bring a book with us and throughout my 5 years of school, there were random English lessons where we would just sit and silently read a book of our choice for the full hour.

The only books I remember having to read for school are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird , John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls (‘m not sure if this last one counts as it is technically a play, but I actually really enjoyed reading and watching this, so I’m including it anyway).

Both Of  Mice and Men and An Inspector Calls, we read in class, going round the room and taking it in turns to read a paragraph aloud (I used to hate this – I had to count ahead and work out which paragraph was mine, long before it was actually my turn to read). But I don’t think this counts as “required reading”, certainly not in the way that I mean, because we didn’t actually have to go away and read them ourselves, all of the reading was done in lessons (only I bought myself a copy of Of Mice and Men and re-read it – my old English teacher would be proud).

However, To Kill a Mockingbird was different. We started off by reading this in class, but then, as everyone reads at different paces, were given several months to finish the books. We were given some lesson time to read this too (e.g. “if you finish your essay, just read To Kill a Mockingbird until the end of the lesson”), so, again, I really don’t think this counts. Side note: I found my copy of this on my bookshelf earlier this year (see the featured image) so it looks like I never handed it back in; belated apologies to my old English teacher, who will never see this post. 

It goes without saying that college was different. In History, we were given lists of suggested reading; both fiction and non-fiction books based on the time period of each paper we studied for (The Tudors, Luther and the German Reformation and the Witchcraze). Surprise, surprise, I actually read some of the books on these lists. And kept the lists for future reference.

Obviously, if I had taken a course such as English Literature at college, this would have been different and I would have been issued with a list of books I needed to read. But, like I said, college is different to school and lists of required reading would not be necessary in a lot of subjects.

So to conclude this longer-than-intended blog post, I’m not sure if required reading lists are real (in schools). Maybe it was just my school or maybe it’s just in the UK that they’re not a big thing, who knows?

Did your school give you lists of required reading? Leave a comment, along with your country, down below! Let’s discover whether this is a myth or a real thing!

Elanor 🙂


a rant about a library that wasn’t really a library

I’m back again, fellow bookworms!

This time, I’m here with a rant/story/possible discussion topic about the library of my old school.

I left school a few years ago. That sentence alone feels weird to type (is it possible to feel old at 18? I’m asking for a friend…).

My old school was odd. When I first went to look around, they were in the process of moving the library from the newer part of the school, into the older part so that the vacated space could be made into a computer suite. Fair enough..?

By the time I started, this move had been completed. But the library never seemed to be used. In all honesty, I didn’t really care until my last few years at school, when I began to question why we had a library that no one was allowed to borrow books from (this is the whole point of a library, why my school didn’t seem to understand this, I’ll never know).

In my final year, a group of my friends and I, became school prefects (we got to sit in the warmth and yell at people for being in the corridors at lunch; it was a great responsibility). One of the perks of this was the fact that our spot for prefect duty was right by several classrooms, which allowed us to question the library situation.

The response we received was that there was no one who could be responsible for recording the borrowing and returning of books. Which was a pretty ridiculous excuse!

Some of you may be thinking that maybe the library was made use of during lessons instead. It wasn’t. Oh, the room itself was used, it was set out with desks and a whiteboard, with books all the way around the walls, and yet the only time we used it for lessons was to hold the lesson in there (e.g. for a debate, as the room was bigger than our classrooms). But we didn’t use the books.

The kids that struggled a little more and maybe needed help with their reading etc. sometimes sat in the library, with a teacher and read a book. But no one borrowed any…or even used them to work on school projects.

If anything, our library was used more as a meeting place. Prefect or school mentor meetings were usually held there, along with occasional governor meetings. But surely that isn’t the point of a library?

You may think this post is over-dramatic (lol) but honestly, this really got to me. Surely the whole point of a library, especially in a school, is for students to borrow and read books and carry out their own research? I just don’t understand why this didn’t happen at my school.

Was this a thing at anyone else’s school, or was it just mine? Obviously, I left a few years ago and things may have changed since then, but this is how it was when I was there. Weird, right?

Elanor 🙂