High school reading lists get a modern makeover





"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." Charles Dickens's famous line in "A Tale of Two Cities" could be used to describe what is probably hitting home about now for millions of American high school students: Lazy summer days cut short by the frantic rush to finish required reading lists before school starts.

"Most teens spend the summer doing whatever, and then cram the reading in during the last two weeks," says 2007 high school graduate Henry Qin of Boston.

Precious summer minutes spent poring over Shakespeare or Nathaniel Hawthorne may seem less than appealing to teens, but some experts say there is a slowly growing trend to infuse more modern literature into summer reading. As a result, the revered literary canon, which includes such classics as "Hamlet," "The Grapes of Wrath," and "The Scarlet Letter," may be due for a shake-up. Glance at high school summer reading lists across the United States and you are likely to find more recent authors such as Alice Sebold, Walter Dean Myers, and even Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong alongside Dickens and the Brontë sisters.


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