The Importance of Novels Read in Class

The book cover of Night, written by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Word Press

The book cover of Night, written by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Mylie Brown, Photojournalist

Every month or so in our language arts classes, we begin reading a new book. While sometimes it may seem like the books we read are pointless or a waste of time, there is a deeper meaning behind why we read each one. 

I invite you to walk me through a few books I have read in the last few years and what lessons they have taught me.

Night by Elie Wiesel: The most recent novel I have read in language arts and my favorite read in class. Night follows the journey of a young Jewish boy during World War II through the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. It is one of the few books I have ever struggled to put down, and I found myself so emotionally invested in it while reading. Since I am the same age as Elie, I couldn’t help but put myself in his shoes and feel such an immense level of sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust. Wiesel’s incredible use of language and imagery paints a perfect picture of just how terrible the events of the Holocaust were, and I was left in awe of how impactful books genuinely are. A friend of mine, Ethan Lee (10), has similar thoughts on Night. He shared, “I think it’s incredibly important that we read books that reflect on our history. One of my favorite reads so far has got to be Night because it teaches us and the world about what cruelty can lead to.” 

History is so important to be taught in the classroom because it teaches our youth to ultimately not repeat the mistakes of our past.”

— Ethan Lee (10)

The story of Night has helped me, along with other students, gain an understanding of how impactful human sympathy can be. It is vital to give all students this immense sympathy, and they must read books similar to this.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird addresses the impact of racism in America during The Great Depression and follows the story of six-year-old Scout Finch. Scout and her brother learn profound lessons from their kind-hearted father, Atticus, who is the epitome of a genuinely moral man. To Kill a Mockingbird distinguishes true “right and wrong” from readers and teaches them to sympathize with others since you will never truly know anyone’s story. I feel that reading this novel is important for high school students as it serves as a reminder that you have no right to judge others. Ethan stated that one particular quote in To Kill a Mockingbird had a lasting impact on him: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” This novel is immensely important for students to read, and I am grateful that I was allowed to do so in class.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet tell the tale of an age-old rivalry between two families, the Capulets and the Montagues, and how it ultimately leads to the death of many when Romeo (a Montague) and Juliet (a Capulet) fall madly in love. Although the story is very unrealistic and most high school students don’t strictly relate to Romeo and Juliet’s situation, students do learn valuable lessons from reading this playwright. These lessons include that love cannot be rushed, some traditions do not need to live on, and love will always overpower hate.

Overall, books taught in the classroom teach us some of the most valuable lessons we will keep with us throughout our lives. Ethan Lee (10) said it best “History is so important to be taught in the classroom because it teaches our youth to ultimately not repeat the mistakes of our past.”