“The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” possesses the typical contents of classroom literature: metaphors, allusions to other classic works, carefully crafted plots. Yet, instead of skimming or relying on online summaries, students are joyfully reading it, even when assigned in the classroom. Why?
Unfortunately, literature oftentimes provokes negatives thoughts regarding hard work, dense readings, and mandatory fun. For many, reading serves as a pleasant pastime, but the minute a professor assigns the reading, the joy oftentimes slips away. I have found that even books I wanted to read for pleasure became painful when I read them in class. That is, however, until Senior year when I enrolled in an English class with I teacher I really connected with in a class with students willing to discuss. For the first time, the teacher did not spend hours each week painfully dissecting ancient, unrelatable texts. She did not lecture or talk at us, yet instead, she provoked thought and conversation. Our entire class got involved, and the discussion enriched the readings. It was fascinating to hear others’ interpretations of the same given passage. They brought out points that I missed and introduced new perspectives on my own ideas. My classmates wanted to read because if you did not, you missed out on the enthusiasm that filled the room each day.
When I read, I invest myself fully in the character, so when they experience shortcomings or make mistakes, I feel as if I have made them as well. Thus, without ever having to make the mistakes on my own, I am able to learn and grow as a person. We study in school to enrich our minds and grow as people, so whether you are learning the power of metaphors or experiencing life lessons first hand, literature serves great purposes. Studying provocative novels regarding socials issues like race, gender, or sexuality, provokes important conversations that are necessary in our society. The Invisible Man and Lolita both spent time on the banned books list, but the discussion sparked by these novels are riveting and imperative. We need this type of literature in the classroom to bring these important social issues to the classroom.
Literature can only serve a purpose if read. Arthur Conan Doyle writes with the contents of typical classroom literature while engaging his audience with suspense and creativity in each story; he undeniably gets people reading. Though Shakespeare’s writing is thought provoking, very few young readers can identify with any aspect of his plays, so reading becomes a chore. Works similar to and including Doyle’s should be read until students have a desire and an appreciation for reading. Until then, if asked to read such dense works, students will come to resent literature and stop reading, so the benefits can never be attained.