Six For Sunday: Back To School Realness – Time These Were Added To School Reading Lists

Somehow we have made it all the way through to September already! While up here north of the border most children have already been back at school for three weeks, those south of the border, and their teachers are all getting ready to start up again for the beginning of the new school year! In honour of that this month’s prompts from Steph all revolve around schools!

Six for Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Steph at ALITTLEBUTALOT. You can find a list of prompts from July to December 2019 here

Books You Think You Be Studied In School

It’s been rather a lot longer than I would like to admit since I was at school so I must confess to not knowing which books are currently found on the curriculum, particularly at GCSE level. I do seem to remember very few contemporary books on our reading list, they were all slightly older, I think the newest book I read was from 1960. I think it would be wonderful if school reading lists recognised some contemporary works. There are some great books out their currently dealing with some very topical issues which would be great to get teenagers talking about.

Countless by Karen Gregory

‘Is there anything that’s concerning you?’ Felicity says. ‘College, home, boyfriends?’ Though she’s more or less smiling at this last one.

I don’t smile. Instead, I feel my face go hot. Silence stretches as wide as an ocean. 
When I look up, Felicity has this expression on her face like she’s just seen Elvis. Slowly, she leans forward and in a gentle voice I’ve never heard her use before she says, ‘Have you done a pregnancy test?’

When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don’t add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She’s even given her eating disorder a name – Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time … 

Heartbreaking and hopeful by turns, Karen Gregory’s debut novel is a story of love, heartache and human resilience. And how the things that matter most can’t be counted. Perfect for fans of Lisa Williamson, Non Pratt and Sarah Crossan.

One of my closest friends almost died when she developed an eating disorder fairly early on in secondary school. While Hedda’s story is not necessarily that of my friend I can’t help but think a book like this would have given me a little bit more of an insight into what she was facing. With the rise of social media and the pressures that accompany things like Instagram to have the perfect photographable life, mental health and eating disorders should be given more focus.

I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

‘You make me feel like there’s something good in the world I can hold on to,’ Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it’s almost hard to breathe. ‘I love you, Gem. And I promise I’ll hold your heart forever.’

When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about.

But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?

Told in both Gemma’s and Aaron’s words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.

Another book from Karen, I must admit I’ve not actually read I Hold Your Heart yet. However knowing how sensitively Karen dealt with eating disorders in Countless I have every faith that she does the same with this novel. I expect it will be hard hitting but I think it’s important for everyone to understand that abuse does not necessarily mean being physically attacked.

The Exact Opposite Of Okay by Laura Steven

Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…

Laura’s book is so funny and accessible, it’s a wonderful way to introduce a very topical issue for discussion. This needed even be set for an English class, it would make a fantastic starting point for a class discussion in what we called Personal Development, I think it’s more widely known as PSHE these days.

The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.

Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more. 

Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own.

This is another book I think would be a great addition to any reading list. While much like Countless, The State Of Grace can’t speak to the experiences of every person living with Asperger’s it tells the story of one girl, and I think could be used as a way of showing and celebrating individual differences.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Now this is my exception to the rule, as To Kill A Mockingbird did feature on the GCSE syllabus for a number of different exam boards but I’m not sure it has since the change over to the newer exams. Even when it was on the syllabus I’m not sure how popular a text it was, my class was the only one out of 14 in my year that studied it when I did my GCSEs. With the current state of the world it’s messages of true courage and walking a mile in another’s shoes are as relevant as ever.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

In a fairly shocking state of affairs I still haven’t gotten around to reading THUG, or seeing the adaptation, however I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I think it would make a really interesting counterpoint to To Kill A Mockingbird and demonstrate that the issues that faced those in 1950s America are not relegated to the past but still relevant today. The twitter drama I caught the edges of earlier in the week only proves my point.

They were my #SixforSunday! If you’ve taken part leave a link to your post below and I’ll be sure to check it out!

3 thoughts on “Six For Sunday: Back To School Realness – Time These Were Added To School Reading Lists

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