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Free Students from the Chains of the Bookroom

By Rich Mitchell

      I have a theory about novels. As a high school teacher, I assume that the dim, damp, locked bookroom across the hall from my classroom is similar to many if not most high school bookrooms around the country. Copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn, and Heart of Darkness, line the shelves, some tattered, some new; some Everbound, some paperback. My theory is this: We teach books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn, and Heart of Darkness because our schools own them. They’re great books, don’t get me wrong, but aren’t the true reasons we use them financial and practical? Do we not order ten new copies of The Great Gatsby annually because we already own so many other serviceable copies? Can we deny that we work with To Kill a Mockingbird because it’s easier and cheaper than finding a new book, written by a living author, with similar, yet more current themes, and no SparkNotes?  Read more