Reading in English class should expand students’ worlds


Shriya Kalluri

RM students read countless assigned books in their English classes.

Ashna Verma, Arts Writer

What students read helps develop them as people, and especially at this age, the material they read is particularly impactful. In a school as big as RM, what students read in English class is always changing as the curriculum is updated, world events influence interests, and students make their preferences known.

English teacher Jeremy Koenig believes everything people read is meaningful and helps them learn more about themselves.  “We can see ourselves in the world and we can learn more about ourselves through that work,” Mr. Koenig said.

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to reading. “I think we should be reading about like a variety of books…not just really old books like Shakespeare or ‘Pride and Prejudice,’” freshman Isabel Skinner said. “We should also be reading stuff that is relevant now.”

Some diverse and new books students could potentially read in English class are Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. These two books have valuable messages, as do many other books. 

Hidden Figures is a biography following three African-American women who worked at NASA. They fought every day for equality in their segregated workplace. Forced to do the work behind the scenes, the women were kept in the background working day and night fighting discrimination and bias from other workers. The book’s key themes include the power a community has and how persistence can make a difference—ones that can be applied to school settings.

In Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, readers are introduced to a 15 year old who must make the decision of his life in 60 seconds, the time it takes for the elevator he is in to travel to the ground floor. The book takes place after the murder of the boy’s brother due to gun violence and deals with revenge and the cycle of violence, two prevalent modern-day issues that raise discussion among students.

RM’s reading curriculum is constantly changing. Mr Koenig said, “It kind of depends on the students we’ve got and what is of interest and what is valuable from a representation standpoint, but also valuable from a learning more about the world and other perspectives standpoint.” It is almost like an informal, unspoken partnership between teacher and student that drives what the school reads in class.

Reading about things that are unfamiliar makes someone more tolerant and open-minded to new things. They might learn about something that is very interesting and develop a new hobby or even become interested in a new career path. If they did not open their mind to new things, they might never have discovered that special thing. 

A person reading about something that they might not know a lot about helps them understand the people around them. Seeing diversity in the books they read helps them understand other people’s experiences, which is the building block for a community.

Not only do students have resources available to them in the media center, the Rockville Public Library is also easily accessible from the school. The library builds on the core mission of our curriculum, as its website emphasizes “intellectual freedom, accountability, quality service, diversity, fairness, professional ethics, integrity of information and respect for [the community].”