Friday, April 29, 2016

What teenagers read in 1916. Adults were worried even then.

Scofield (1916) described books selected by high school students enrolled in an elective class called "outside reading." Students were required to read four to seven books, depending on the books selected, keep a notebook and make an oral report at the end of the semester.  A book list of 300 books was made available and students were allowed to read books not on the list, "but few did so." (p.548).  Students were not allowed to select books required for a course.

Scofield presented a list of the most frequently selected books.  Scofield's description is very revealing: "An examination of these titles shows that the students have selected far better literature than we might expect from some of the assertions we hear about the habits of high-school pupils" (p. 545).

Even one hundred years ago, people were concerned that young people were not reading "good" books.   Scolding teenagers is nothing new (Krashen, 2011).

Among the top ten: Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, The Call of the Wild, The Last of the Mohicans, Kidnapped.

Krashen, S. 2011. Why We Should Stop Scolding Teenagers and Their Schools: Frequency of Leisure Reading
. Language Magazine 11 (4): 18-21, 2011. (scroll down).

Scofield, F. A. 1916.  Outside reading in the Eugene High School. English Journal 5: 544-548.  Available at:

No comments:

Post a Comment