10 books that you were forced to read in junior high, but would change your life now as an adult
With the kids back at school, it is a great time to wipe off the summer dust from your bookshelf and start your fall reading.
Although the newest New York Times bestseller might be calling your name, you may consider selecting an old childhood reading assignment instead (given that you actually READ the book, instead of just relying on Spark Notes summaries).
You probably did not appreciate forced reading during junior high, but you may find a greater appreciation and understanding for the same books as adult.
Here are just a few classics that you should seriously reconsider rereading:
1. "The Giver" (Lois Lowry)
Imagine a society where mankind's right to make decisions for themselves is taken away. The story follows a boy named Jonas, who is chosen to receive all the memories of the past, in order to help the Elders make decisions for their community. This intriguing tale has an underlying Christian theme that emphasizes the importance of pain, life, love and family.
The movie version (now playing in theaters) has an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift, Katie Holmes, and Jeff Bridges. Although there are some minor changes from the books, it holds true to the original message, and it is an intriguing retelling of the story.
2. "To Kill a Mockingbird" (Harper Lee)
This American classic takes on the subject of racism in the Deep South. It is narrated by Scout Finch, a young girl whose father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer. Although he is highly opposed by members of the community, he chooses to protect Tom Robinson, a African-American man who is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman.
3. "A Wrinkle in Time" (Madeleine L'Engle)
Don't be deceived, this sci-fi novel is not a cheesy children's book. After their brilliant, scientist father goes missing, Meg, her brother, friend, and a band of supernatural beings head off on an amazing journey through time and space to discover where he is being held captive.
4. "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (Mark Twain)
As told by Huckleberry Finn, this story is all about his runaway adventures with Jim, a former slave. This book is often found on banned books lists because of it's controversial themes and language. In it's time, it was an excellent addition to the anti-racist movement.
5. "Bridge to Terabithia" (Katherine Paterson)
Make sure to read this one with a box of tissues. It is an excellent read about friendship, imagination, and loss.
6. "Little Women" (Louisa May Alcott)
As a teenager, you were probably more interested in the film adaptation with Christian Bale (pre-"Dark Night"), but this beloved tale is far more than a story about sisters playing dress up, it is a compelling novel about the self discovery that takes place when a group of little girls become women.
7. "Ender's Game" (Orson Scott Card)
This military, science fiction novel takes its readers into the Earth's future where children are vigorously trained, so that they can fight against their alien enemies.
8. "Animal Farm" (George Orwell)
If you history interests you, then this allegory is right up your ally. Based off of events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, this novel uses the farm animals (particularly vicious pigs) to critique Soviet communism.
9. "Fahrenheit 451" (Ray Bradbury)
This dystopian novel navigates a world where books are illegal. The main character, Guy Montag, is a fireman who burns books, but eventually turns against the government when he discovers their value. This novels makes a clear statement about how censoring dissenting ideas negatively affects society.
10. "Romeo and Juliet" (William Shakespeare)
Your hormone-driven teenage side probably enjoyed this one to some extent. (Especially when you got to read the lines of either Romeo or Juliet paired up with your secret crush.) Although Shakespeare's language is difficult to read and understand, it is worth taking another crack at many of his plays.
What would you add?
Katelyn Carmen is the International Content Manager for the FamilyShare Network. She completed her MBA at Utah State University. She received her undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University-Idaho in English. Follow her on Twitter: @katelyncarmen
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