However, I think that the main writing style in this modern day era would have to change and adapt to the new audience, eventually. I bet most of the kids today would quit reading altogether if you forced them to read "Little Women", "The Great Gatsby", or other classics that were written in a style that no longer fits our current era. We have tablets, internets, game, and even Virtual Reality coming up. Books and writing styles would have to adapt, or else disappeared entirely in this storm of change and time. Much like our parents and grandparents wouldn't be able to understand the ideas and desires in our era, people of the later generation wouldn't be able to grasp the same style that we once loved and held dear. But that's just my opinion, that is.
A turning point in my life was when my Grade 10 English teacher introduced the class to Ender's Game. I ate that book up in a single night of reading and have never looked back. I went through a period in time (Grade 7-10) where I had barely picked up a book, and had it not been for this moment in Grade 10, I'm not sure I'd be a writer or even reading regularly. Early educators make SUCH a difference, which is why I intend on going back to University in a years' time and getting my after-ed degree in Education.
Making kids love to read and write just sounds like the best.
This is so precise. *looks at The Scarlet Letter, The Crucible, A Raisin in the Sun, and other english literature books.* If students could actually read things that they wanted like Mistborn, Harry Potter, even Eragon and other YA books, I think people will be that much more interested in English class. Additionally, I'm think they are quite harder to find on sparknotes than the usual classics, for which my friends would just instantly copy the answers from there.
Two things. One, Bran is one of my favorite characters in that series. And two, as a 19-year-old, I completely agree. I think the reason a lot of people my age don't read is because of school. Most of my friends who don't read tell me that it just feels like too much work. And look at the books we make them read. The Great Gatsby. Kill me now. Red Badge of Courage. Too terrible for words. Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare said it was one of his worst plays, and yet we make students suffer through it. Sidhartha. Yeah, what a good way to get students to read. A journey about a guy discovering his religion. Ooooooh. I'm snoring just thinking about that book.
And that's barely scratching the surface. I look at the description and theme of Pride and Prejudice, and my eyes roll. I never actually read it. At least I was saved from that torture. If we let people read what they want, and make them do an in-depth book report on whatever topic the teacher is focusing on, I bet lots more people would be reading.
Now Nora will slaughter me because I bashed one of her favorite books that I haven't even read.
Haha-- maybe I can beat @Nora
to the punch... or the millennial chainsaw massacre @Lordoftheword @ultamentkiller
and @S. K. InkSlinger
So on the "yes" side: English teachers are frigging awesome, wonderful, powerful, inspirational people. While you were getting juiced about Ender's Game, I was really excited about Dune in high school, and T.H. White's Once and Future King (that series was dark af btw, Disney kept the sequels under wraps!). It's awesome to get engaged with fiction by someone who's accessible (writing in the style/medium of whatever times may be-- like TH White taking Arthurian legends and making them a sword and sorcery story), but there's a reason we need the classics too.
But "reading" is just one part of things-- there's so much more going on here.
The stories we tell are what makes us... "us". We have a Western Civ lineage that goes from English classics to Greek Civ. Native Americans have different stories depending on the tribe the Navajo do dances at the Ye Be Che each year re-enacting various myths and lessons etc. Black slaves in the caribbean told stories of African myths layered in with elements of resistance in campfires away from their masters-- without those narratives their culture would have been destroyed and their minds bent to the point they wouldn't have had a basis with which to fight back when the opportunity presented itself.
Myths, stories, histories, are how we build on who we are-- and the ideas the underly them (Japanese animism in Japanese horror films, Feudalistic statism in Arthurian myths which bleed into hero-comics in America...) if we're not conscious of it... we're not conscious at all! We're like 1/2 literate puppets that would be willing to vote a reality TV sociopath as President... errr...
So, look, if we erase our history, our thought and just have kids read 50 Shades of Grey, we're missing some stuff here. The Crucible was a powerful testimonial to what happened in Salem... yet somehow we have Dragonage: Inquisition which, while a fun game, seems to be an evangelical erasure of how fucked up the actual Inquisition was.... Orwell's 1984 was drab and defeatist to the point of being anti-climactic, but it was a piercingly accurate critique of the state, and he even predicted televisions! Never mind how emotionally engaging Animal Farm was, while tearing the hell out of Socialism. Tho his nonfiction Homage to Catalonia is just f*ing incredible and one of the best books on earth. If I hadn't read Huxley's Brave New World in english class, I wouldn't have had the tools to understand the ways capitalism warps our social institutions and our minds. Yes, I read Siddhartha three times and I loved it! Buddhist Jainism has ties Hinduism and Buddhism together, and actually set the stage for the monotheistic tradition-- aside from being spiritually enlightening, it helps us understand the theoretical and historical underpinnings that tie diverse religions together.
Should you write cyberpunk without being aware of William Gibson or fantasy without having read JRR Tolkien? Horror without knowing Lovecraft or Poe? I mean you *can* and there's nothing wrong with that--write whatever you want whenever you want--but you're missing any awareness of your place in the stream of things. Prof Tolkien may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he did something no one had done before, inventing frigging languages and shit; and the trolls and elves and whatnot of today's fantasy-- they come from his re-creation perhaps more than they do from the English and Germanic myths. It's the basis of everything that followed.
That's why we should have kids not only read it in English class, but then dissect the fucked up ideas that underly it. Tolkien's binaries of good and evil-- racialized in Orcs and Elves-- were a product of the WW1 and WW2 context, but they're still present today and equally false-- a way to demonize an entire place, inflected in our own racist predispositions. Arthurian myths had a lot going on too-- not just the love triangle or the incest-- but it was a myth about a time when monotheism and (the grossly unequal) feudalism overtook druidic religions and (much more egalitarian) tribal organization. Those romantic tales legitimate the abuse of power-- the statism then feeds into Hobbes's Leviathan, which feeds into Mathusian biology, which is tied to our own (grossly false) concepts of "human nature" used in everything from Freudian psychology to economics which in turn legitimate the vast majority of our current political policy (every f*ed up thing we do to ourselves is rationalized in terms of crackpot economics). Don't get me started on the twisted concepts underlying Ender's Game...
I'm going off on tangents here, but my point is: yes, encourage kids to read YA. But YA isn't enough. Keep the classics, and more importantly reading isn't just about reading-- we need kids to learn how to *think* as well, or there will be nothing to stop the world from going to the utter hell it looks like it's going to right now.