Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

July 21, 2013

Question Time: Required reading

What books would you make mandatory for students?

By Rob Burgess
Tribune night editor

[Editor’s note: To participate in future queries, keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.]

The answers to this week’s question were very interesting. We asked:

“If it were up to you, what book would you require every high school student in the state to read before graduating?”

By far the most popular answer on our Facebook page was "The Bible." So, this week we’re going to tweak the Question Time format a bit so as to give "The Bible" its own section.

'The Bible'

“I'm a Christian and I believe everyone should read ‘The Bible.’ That being said I have friends of many different religions and background. To help understand other people, which we should do, I think we should read their bibles or histories as well.” — Elisabeth Fletcher

"Yes I have read 'The Bible!' I also believe if our youth read it and understood it we would have a more respectful generation. Just saying." — Stephanie Kay

"'The Bible.' Because we as Americans need to get this nation back to God. Put God first. Unfortunately 'In God We Trust' doesn't mean what it used to." — Jimmy Firkus

Your (other) answers

“Anything John Steinbeck. ‘To a God Unknown,’ ‘The Moon is Down,’ ‘East of Eden.’ No one writes today as eloquently and movingly as he did. John Irving's ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany. Wow. Ann Patchett's ‘Bel Canto.’ Those books are classics for a reason.” — Dawn Booze Sladinski 

"Elie Wiesel's 'Night.' I had to read it. It impacted me from a standpoint of what humans are capable of, in good and in bad. It is, to this day, my favorite book. Probably because of the impact that it had on me. Knowing that it is an account of what a child grew up experiencing, him being near the age I was at the time, made it hit home." — Amy Rust

"Not a book, but the Constitution of the United States of America, The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, The Pledge of Allegiance. Read and memorized and tested on." — Deb Wyrick Reyburn

Our answers

“My hope is that by the time students are graduating they've read more than just textbooks or required reading. I would put on the list. 'Abraham Lincoln' by Carl Sandburg, outstanding book on the life of who I consider to be the greatest American president. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, a look at the racial differences that touched the nation. Anything by Hunter S. Thompson. Although dated somewhat, 'Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72" would be at the top of that list. For fun reading I would include the 'Lord of the Rings.'” — Ken de la Bastide

“'The Long Gray Line' by Rick Atkinson. 1966 Graduating West Point Class exploits in Vietnam. This class took huge losses both in Vietnam and struggled at home, if they made it home.” — Paul Grant

“It’s funny to me that Mitch Daniels was so focused on banning Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History of the United States’ because I’ve been saying for years that’s the one book I wish every student was forced to read. In school I always loved history. The first time I read the book it absolutely blew my mind to think I had been lied to my whole life. (Read even just the first chapter and see if you can ever celebrate Columbus Day again with a straight face.) But don’t stop there, kids. After you read that, read more. And more. And more. There are books which refute Zinn’s work. Read those too. Education never ends. I think it’s more important for students to be told how to think rather than what to think. Challenge what you’re told. Find out for yourself.” — Rob Burgess

Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at rob.burgess@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/robaburg.