Tag Archives: school

Authors Answer 96 – Required Reading in English Class

Welcome to September. Last month, we had an interesting month for Authors Answer, and the final story was The Personality Dealer. The winner was a tie! Gregory S. Close and Eric Wood won that one.

This month, we’re focusing on education. Not only that, we have three new contributors to welcome! So, say hello to Cyrus Keith, C E Aylett, and Beth Aman. We’ll begin with their answers.

This week, we’re looking at English class in school. There are a lot of novels that are required reading in class, but we don’t always see what we really want to read. So, what do we think should be read?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 96 – What modern novel do you think should be included in high school English class?

Cyrus Keith

Define “Modern.” For me, that could include anything written since 1916. So, with that definition in mind, I’m thinking the book in question should not be one that lectures or sermonizes, but demonstrates solid examples of literary tools and story-telling technique, something that could be broken down and analyzed mechanically, like dissecting a frog in science class. Because kids today don’t need to be told what to think, as long as they are being taught to think on their own. It should also be short enough to cover in a single grading period, and exciting to read. Lord, how mind-numbingly dull some of those books we covered were! With all those points in mind, I would recommend Raise the Titanic by Clive Cussler.

C E Aylett

Well, I think that depends on what you’re trying to teach, but one novel I go back to time and again is Girl With a Pearl Earring (which I think is taught in schools already). That’s if you want to learn about writing tight characters and how relationships create tension and grow plot. If you wanted to teach more action orientated plotting, I’d probably chose something more commercial. I have no idea what they teach for high school English lit these days, so not sure what gap might need filling.

Beth Aman

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Because not only is it amazingly enjoyable and funny, but it deals with issues of death and life and legacy.  And also the characters are brilliant and hilarious.

Linda G. Hill

This is a tough call for me, because so many of my favourites aren’t necessarily fit for consumption by younger teens. Out of all of the ones I can pick, I’d have to say Harry Potter. The depth of the characters and the trials and tribulations they go through are easy to relate to, whether the students are wizards or not. Having chosen it though, who wouldn’t already have read it?

H. Anthe Davis

I’m really not a literature reader; my roots are in pulp fantasy and sci-fi and mostly I’m happy to stay there!  However, I think that you can pull a book or two from those genres that will have both high school appeal and be teachable material.  The ones that come to mind immediately are Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (for discussion of consumerism, modern values vs. ancient ones, racism, religion, etc) and Terry Pratchett’s Nation (culture clash, mortality, nationhood, faith and tradition).

Jean Davis

I’d love to see something a bit off the wall like Watership Down by Richard Adams. Something that young people would enjoy but still includes a lot of obvious issues to talk about without having to rip the story into tiny miserable bits that suck the enjoyment out of reading.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

This is honestly a bit of a difficult question for me for a couple of reasons. For one, I hardly ever find time to read these days, so I can’t even really think of that many “modern” novels I’ve read. For another thing, I mostly read genres like horror and supernatural, which aren’t ones that are steeped with the kind of content you really associate with the educational, you know what I mean?

I suppose if I’m going to pick something, I’m going to go with Harry Potter. It’s not exactly MODERN modern, but I’m picking it because it excellent, it’s fun as hell, it brightens the imagination, and also I’d love to see the looks on a bunch of bible thumpers’ faces when they find out it’s on the class syllabus. 😛

Gregory S. Close

TIGANA by Guy Gavriel Kay.  This is literary fantasy fiction with wonderful prose, a compelling story, and it’s packed with enough layers to keep any English teacher happily delving into deeper meanings, symbolisms and parallels to the real world.  Also, it’s a stand-alone novel, which is tough to find in the genre these days.  Honorable Mention to FOUNDATION by Asimov.

Eric Wood

I think “The Book Thief” should be included. It gives a great view every day life in Germany during the days leading up to and during WWII. Although the story is told by Death, it shows us life from a child’s perspective as he follows Liesel Meminger.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I’m going to vote for Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. Not only does it give parallels to the fall of the Roman Empire (bonus ties to history class), there’s an interesting theme surrounding the decline in education and independent thought. A minor character insists that the scientific method consists of reading enough studies and not doing any independent study of his own. There are good lessons here that can apply to many area of students’ learning.

D. T. Nova

The whole His Dark Materials trilogy.

Not quite as modern (it’s older than I am), but I also think that Judy Blume’s Forever… should be required reading…whether in literature class or health class I’m not sure. Though I imagine there would be a lot of opposition to that.

Paul B. Spence

Er. Not sure I would. I guess you need to define modern.

Jay Dee Archer

I read a lot of long books, but I don’t think that would be appropriate for a high school English class. However, I would like to suggest a lighthearted novel filled with well-known themes and cultural references. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett would not only keep students entertained, but would give them a lot of research to do.

How about you?

What do you think should be included in the high school English curriculum? Let us know which book you’d like to see in the comments below.


Thirteen Days Until School

It’s soon! Today, we got two letters from the school district about my daughter’s school. One of the letters was about her bus. Unfortunately, they have the time wrong, so we need to correct that before September 8th. The other was a letter saying when my daughter’s first day of school is, and it’s September 1st! She’ll only go that day, then again on the 8th.

You see, during the first week of school, they’re slowly introducing the kids to kindergarten. They don’t want to overwhelm the kids, so only a few at a time go. Parents are supposed to go on the first day and stay for about half an hour, then the rest of the time is just the kids with the teacher. On September 8th, the bus service begins, and my daughter will take the bus to and from school.

Today, we got her new shoes, both outdoor and indoor shoes. We’re ordering her school supplies, as well. And we’ll have to pay for her registration fees and bus pass.

Hard to believe school starts so soon for her. This will be an interesting time. Over the next two weeks, I’m working with her on writing, the alphabet, and numbers. You know, just to prepare her, and get her a little head start.

My main concern is that she’ll cry when it’s time to go home. Both times she’s gone to the school, she cried when it was time to go home. Hopefully, she won’t do it every day.

She’s growing up.

I Don’t Want to Go to School!

My daughter was more difficult to get to sleep tonight than usual. She often talks and plays with the toys she wants to sleep with, but usually goes to sleep within about thirty minutes. Tonight, it took her one and a half hours to go to sleep. You see, she wanted to talk about school.

It started off with her asking if we will go to school with her. She was hoping we’d stay in the class with her. However, I explained to her that we can take her to school and pick her up, but we can’t stay in the school with her. She’ll be with the teacher and her new friends. But she started to cry and told us she didn’t want to be with the teacher. She didn’t want to be with friends. She didn’t want to play with the toys at school.  She wanted to play with me and my wife and her toys.

It’s still a month until school starts, and she’s usually happy about going to school. However, she occasionally says she doesn’t want to go to school. But hopefully, she’ll enjoy going to school. She’ll probably cry, and she said she’d cry, but that’s pretty common. I’ve taught kids around the same age who cried.

One more month. Better make the best of that month with her.

The Kindergarten Follow-Up

We went, we played, we cried. Well, my daughter cried.

So, everything went well at my daughter’s school at first. She tried playing with a lot of toys. Amazing how she just picks something up and starts playing with it. About halfway in, the kids went to the library where the kindergarten teachers did story time. The parents went back to the kindergarten classroom to listen to the Principal talk. Nothing new, but some parents asked questions. That’s when it happened.

The kindergarten teacher brought our daughter to us. She was crying. Why? Because we were gone. She had no idea that we’d left her there without us. Well, the meeting was over anyway, and it was time to leave. But she didn’t want to go. She cried again, saying she wanted to keep playing. I explained to her that everyone is going home, so we can’t stay. She was angry.

Hopefully, when school starts, she won’t be crying when it’s time to go home.

My Daughter’s First Day at School, Sort of

Tonight, we’re going to my daughter’s school. While she’s visited it when we registered her for kindergarten, this will be her first time seeing her classroom and meeting her classmates and teacher. While we don’t know which teacher she’ll have, and we don’t know which classmates will be hers, she can spend some time at the school that she didn’t want to leave before.

When we visited it the first time, my daughter cried when we left. She didn’t want to leave at all. She saw kids having fun, and she wanted to start right at that moment. Tonight, I wonder if she’ll cry when we leave.

When she starts school in September, I think she’ll be okay. She’s been in the situation where she’s been picked up by a driver and dropped off at a place full of kids. And she had no problem coming home, either. She’s used to this. She’ll be able to socialise with other kids, and hopefully, she won’t behave selfishly like she often does with toys. She’s more cooperative than she used to be, but I wonder if she’ll listen to her teacher.

Another thing is that she’s only four years old. She’s starting kindergarten earlier than most of the other kids. She can handle being in the class with other kids and a teacher, but can she handle doing what she learns? Her English isn’t the best. However, the teachers are experienced with kids whose first languages aren’t English. While she’s only four, there is a choice we must make at the end of the year. Another year of kindergarten, or is she ready for grade one at five years old? Only time will tell.

Anyone else have young children starting school or recently started? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Japanese School for My Daughter

At the moment, my daughter only has my wife to speak Japanese with her. But today, we met a couple families whose husbands are Canadian and wives are Japanese. Both families have several children older than my daughter.

One of the topics that came up was the Japanese school. There’s one here in Edmonton, and it apparently has around 130 students. We’d like our daughter to attend, so she can meet other kids who speak Japanese, and she can maintain her Japanese fluency. That’ll be very good for her, as she’ll be able to be fully bilingual. It’ll be great for her future. I hope she likes it.

Progress in Canada: Phone Calls, Banks, a School, and Driver’s License

It was an interesting day today. What happened today changed tomorrow’s plans.

First of all, because of my wife’s permanent residency basically being approved, I called the call centre for immigration to see if she can land in Edmonton. They said it’s possible, but with such short notice that she was given, it may not be possible to get an appointment in time. So, we may have to go to the border with Montana and make a U-turn. Both of the representatives I spoke to were very kind and helpful.

Then I made another phone call. This one was to the elementary school my daughter will go to school. They were very friendly, and asked us to visit the school and register our daughter in the afternoon.

So, after lunch, we went to the school, filled out the registration, and discovered that she can get bus service! That’s excellent news. She’s now registered and will be attending kindergarten next September. We also found out there’s a parents only orientation next week on Thursday. That should be interesting.

Later on, we went to a few banks to get some information about accounts. The credit unions seem more promising. We also checked the mail, and much to my surprise, the translation of my Japanese driver’s license had arrived! That means I can get my driver’s license tomorrow.

After dinner, I took my daughter out to the park to blow some bubbles, and saw a great sunset.


Nice way to end the day. Tomorrow, my daughter meets one of my aunts for the first time, and I’ll get my driver’s license figured out. And we’re going to see a movie.

How was your day?