The Sword and Laser discussion

Did you get to read fantasy in school?

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message 1: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Knighton | 158 comments Re-reading Wizard of Earthsea reminded me of reading this in school when I was about ten. The teacher was clearly a fantasy fan - she also read Tolkien with another class. It introduced me to Le Guin's work and helped reinforce my enthusiasm for fantasy.

As a result, this month's reading has filled me with a wave of nostalgia for the days of poster paints, playing tag and putting crisps in my sandwiches. So in that spirit of nostalgia, did anyone else get to read fantasy or sci-fi during lessons at school? And if so what stories did your teachers introduce you to?

message 2: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6903 comments Mod
I read The Hobbit in 9th grade. My teacher almost ruined it with too much analysis though.

message 3: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2702 comments My 4th grade teacher read The Chronicles of Narnia to us. I remember really loving it but haven't visited that world extensively since.

message 4: by Alexander (new)

Alexander (technogoth) | 171 comments hmmm. I can't think of any fantasy that we read in any of my classes in school, unless you count Macbeth.

message 5: by David(LA,CA) (last edited Feb 22, 2014 07:28AM) (new)

David(LA,CA) (davidscharf) | 327 comments The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was read to us in 5th grade. We read The Hobbit in 6th. 6th grade also included The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey.

In 7th, we read some Twilight Zone episodes. I'm trying to remember if they were short stories based on the episodes or scripts. Also trying to remember which episodes they were. I know we did four, I remember three, and I only know the titles for two: "The Monsters are due on Maple Street" and "I Shot an Arrow".

message 6: by Thane (new)

Thane | 476 comments Our 1st grade teacher read us The Hobbit right after lunch. It rocked. Now I think it was kind of an odd choice for 1st graders. Maybe she just wanted to read it for herself!

message 7: by Ty (new)

Ty Wilson (ShatterStar66) | 165 comments In the 5th grade our teacher read us The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I immediately fell in love with, but I was too impatient to wait so I begged my parents to buy me The Chronicles of Narnia box set. I flew through the rest of series in no time flat. It's still the one series that gets me the most nostalgic. Thank you, Mrs. Muir!

message 8: by library_jim (new)

library_jim | 212 comments I don't remember any of that stuff mentioned in school at all. Maybe that's why I went and found it on my own!

message 9: by Michal (new)

Michal (michaltheassistantpigkeeper) | 294 comments Grade 3: Roald Dahl--James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Grade 5: Not fantasy, but sf: Robot Alert, which I remember being surprisingly good.

Grade 6: The Gammage Cup. The teacher also read us the first Harry Potter book (which also included the world "muggle").

And then no fantasy or science fiction assigned in class ever again unless you count A Midsummer Night's Dream.

message 10: by Louise (last edited Feb 22, 2014 09:31AM) (new)

Louise (louiseh87) I read some books about invisible people in the infants (aged 6) - by Sheila K. McCullagh, who also wrote Puddle Lane - but I don't think we ever read fantasy as a class. As far as I remember, we didn't study or read entire books as a class at all until secondary school (age 11 upwards) and then it was all To Kill a Mockingbird and Shakespeare. The only class reading I remember was in year 3 and 4 (7 to 9) when we read the novelisations of the Look & Read programmes we were watching. There was an alien in one of them, so I guess it was science fiction. Throughout primary school there was a reading period after lunch, but that was for reading on your own.

message 11: by Dustin (last edited Feb 22, 2014 10:30AM) (new)

Dustin (tillos) | 365 comments Besides The Giver, no.

Edit: A Wrinkle in Time, as well.

message 12: by Joe Informatico (new)

Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments Outside of a couple of the Shakespearean plays with ghosts, and some Greek mythology, fairy tales, and Native American folktales, the only fantasy book I can remember ever being assigned in school was Tuck Everlasting.

We had The Hobbit and some of the early Dragonlance and Shannara books in my elementary school library though, which is where I first read them.

Science fiction was a bit better. We were assigned Brave New World, I did 1984 for an English assignment. We were also assigned The Chrysalids, which turned me off John Wyndham for years until I finally read his other books. In retrospect The Chrysalids is actually not bad, but it takes some fairly polarizing stances that could have benefited from better class discussion than we got.

message 13: by Reed (new)

Reed Bosgoed (ReedBosgoed) | 17 comments Like many of the above posters, I got to read Narnia books and some Tolkien in elementary school.

message 14: by Phil (last edited Feb 22, 2014 12:32PM) (new)

Phil | 1160 comments The only one I remember reading as a class was The Chrysalids in grade 10.
I think back then it was still thought that science fiction "was for boys" and would not appeal to the girls in the class and both science fiction and fantasy were not considered to be serious enough.

message 15: by Seawood (new)

Seawood We did Wizard of Earthsea at school when I was 11 or 12. I was already a fantasy fan by then, but Earthsea was absolutely wrecked for me by over-analysis and ridiculous art projects masquerading as English Lit (though I did learn how to age paper, a now-useful skill for someone who loves making D&D props, which nevertheless almost set my friend's house on fire at the time). I thought it was the most boring thing in the world, especially having to go at the pace of the class. It put me off Le Guin until last year, when I had to read The Left Hand of Darkness for the Coursera Sci-Fi course. I was blown away.

I wish we hadn't done Earthsea in class, I might have appreciated Le Guin more if I'd discovered her by myself. :(

message 16: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (nevets) | 1612 comments Did nobody else read "Animal Farm" or "1984" in class, I thought those were required most places? I think I had both those in 9th grade. And while I'm not sure I would classify most Shakespeare as fantasy, even though he often uses fantastical elements, one exception would be "A Mid Summers Night Dream". We had done " Wizard of Earth Sea" in 8th, I'm pretty sure there were others I'm forgetting as well.

Man I would have loved to post links it those books, but once again the iPad app fails me.

message 17: by David (last edited Feb 22, 2014 01:39PM) (new)

David | 47 comments My 6th grade teacher read us the Hobbit at the end of the day if we were "good" This of course got me started Tolkien

message 18: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 3639 comments Mod
I can't remember reading any fantasy in school.

Australian schools in the 60's and 70's were fairly conservative and usually stuck to the classics.

I'd have much preferred Tolkien to Shakespeare

message 19: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4203 comments I don't remember reading fantasy in school for any required reading, unless you count The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and bits from The Odyssey. I think that one of the elective English classes in my high school read Siddartha (spelled wrong, I know), and maybe Stranger in a Strange Land.

It was my 6th grade reading teacher, though, who got me into some series including The Dark is Rising (he suggested it when we went to the book fair). My 9th grade English teacher was amazing. We read 1984, watched THX1138, etc. He even taught a senior elective English class called Shakespeare and Science Fiction. Sadly, my year, the class was cancelled due to low enrollment. :( He was the teacher that got me into John Brunner, though, giving me a copy if The Sheep Look Up.

message 20: by Whitney (last edited Feb 23, 2014 05:22PM) (new)

Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe .
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I then went on to read Charlie and the Glass Elevator on my own.
Wringer (might be scifi) Wringer (Summer Reading Edition) by Jerry Spinelli

My second grade teacher seemed to be obsessed with Harry Potter and read from the first book for a little while before stopping I think it must have been because of some parents (the witchcraft thing). She then tried to force me to read the book at home and sent it home with me. I gave it back to her unread, I tried but he wasn't interesting to my 2nd grade self at all.

I was all about the babysitters club back then lol.

message 21: by John (Nevets) (last edited Feb 23, 2014 05:39PM) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (nevets) | 1612 comments Kristin's comment got me thinking. The ones I mentioned were just the ones required for everyone. As far as elective reading I remember doing a book report on one of Robin McKinley's books, I think The Blue Sword. In grade school we would get gold stars for books read, and I'm sure I had some fantasy in there. I also had had an English Lit video class where we read Frankenstein (I ended up doing much more work with that book in college).

I remember doing a research project as a senior in high school that ended up involving "Alternate History" science fiction. I was having a heck of time finding anything about it at the local small university library (still using a card catalog) until I located The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. It had just been published, and it saved that paper big time, besides being a good resource in itself, it also gave me other books to go to. In fact a few years later when I found a softcover copy of it at a used book store, I had to have it.

Now with all that, who would have guessed my degree would be in Mechanical Engineering ;-).

Much easier doing this post from a computer.

message 22: by Dara (last edited Feb 24, 2014 06:59AM) (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2702 comments Speaking of elective reading, I read Fahrenheit 451 for a report in 11th grade. There was a list to choose from. Can't remember how I settled on 451. Haven't read it since but I should.

message 23: by AndrewP (last edited Feb 24, 2014 07:59AM) (new)

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2521 comments I went to a stuffy British school where we were pretty much limited to the classics. The only one we did read was "Animal Farm'. My teacher would have consider anything else as trivial nonsense:)

message 24: by Joaquin (last edited Feb 24, 2014 08:38AM) (new)

Joaquin Garza | 37 comments When I was twelve, it seemed that the mexican government had a better taste on which readings to include in its free reading comprehension textbook and its school library book selection.

That's how I discovered Roald Dahl (with George's Marvellous Medicine) and some snippets of Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.

message 25: by Mark (new)

Mark Maxwell (markjmaxwell) | 9 comments Wow, some of you guys were lucky. I was stuck with the classics in Ireland. I think it's great that some teachers are introducing CS Lewis and Tolkien into the classroom.

The nearest I got to 'officially' reading fantasy in school was when our English Lit teacher got bored one day and asked what everyone was reading. At the time I was reading Gary Gygax's Night Arrant but there was little interest in it as no-one else had heard of him!

message 26: by Ken (new)

Ken (kanthr) | 334 comments Absolutely not.

Fantasy and SF were not considered "literature" when I was in school. I did read many classic SF/F at that time in my life, but not in class. We were forced to slog through such books I detested as Gatsby, Mockingbird, Catcher, and other 'classics' I found boring. On the flip-side, we also read The Odyssey, Journey to the West, Crime and Punishment, Frankenstein, and various Shakespeare.

I just hope that modern curriculum steers clear of "YA" fiction. While teaching some classics can turn off students to reading, I think getting them to read garbage and try to analyze it is worse.

message 27: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisapond) We read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe in 4th grade at my school and it cemented in me a life-long love of the Narnia series (which I promptly finished). That book is still used in the school where I teach and it is still well-loved by the students. My fourth grade teacher read The Indian in the Cupboard to us. That's all I remember for formally reading fantasy in elementary school.

In middle school, we read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I can't remember if we read any others though - nothing is sticking out. A lot of the fantasy I read was on my own.

As a teacher I can say the 4th grade curriculum includes a unit of study on fantasy at my school and the kids LOVE it. We do fantasy book clubs and I really enjoy helping them choose great fantasy books to read.

message 28: by Keith (new)

Keith (keithatc) We did Brave New World and Alas, Babylon, but that was it. Every now and then, we got to pick our own books, and that was my first go-round with The Hobbit and A Wrinkle in Time, but they were never part of the set curriculum.

message 29: by Grim (last edited Feb 24, 2014 02:22PM) (new)

Grim (grimnir) | 40 comments UK reading sucked. We read Shakespeare and cider with Rosie and other tortorous text that melted the brain sapped the will to live and almost destroyed any desire to ever read again. Had I not already been reading GOOD books on my own, and encouraged so much by my dad, I probably would never have read again.

message 30: by Keith (new)

Keith (keithatc) Grimnir wrote: "UK reading sucked. We read Shakespeare and cider with Rosie and other tortorous text that melted the brain sapped the will to live and almost destroyed any desire to ever read again. Had I not alre..."

For some reason, that just reminds me of a quote from one of the executive producers of Space: 1999, where he said he didn't want any scenes on Earth, because he didn't want a sci-fi show "full of people drinking tea in the midlands."

message 32: by Rik (new)

Rik | 777 comments Closest assigned books I got to read were The Illiad and La Morte de Arthur.

message 33: by Janet (new)

Janet | 51 comments It is really hard to remember what we were actually assigned to read as a kid. Somehow our teachers didn't communicate and I had to read Island of the Blue Dolphins three times...not great on its 3rd run. I remember reading The Giver in 5th? grade. I read the Odyssey in 8th grade.

In high school we definitely read Brave New World in freshman year English. We had some options in sophomore year Brit lit that I turned into reading War of the worlds, 1984, and Frankenstein, but they weren't assigned. We read Poe, which some of those are closer to genre, and Kafka's Metamorphosis. We also read Farenheit 451 I think, because I remember watching the movie in class. Some years senior year read Dante's Inferno (which would that be Christian Lit if it came out now?), but we didn't my year.

I felt growing up that the emphasis in grade school was - class books are good for you and occasionally you will like them, then turn in your reading records that your parents sign that you read other books that you actually want to read.

Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1954 comments Grimnir wrote: "UK reading sucked. We read Shakespeare and cider with Rosie and other tortorous text that melted the brain sapped the will to live and almost destroyed any desire to ever read again. Had I not alre..."

I was luckier. The teacher in my high school had us read Groosham Grange by Anthony Horowitz in the first year, in which kids get sent to a spooky boarding school that teaches magic, a little like a creepy version of Hogwarts (this is the book that Harry Potter most reminded me of when it came out). I can't recall if we read any other books in the genre (I feel like there may have been some Cuba/ Castro alt history type thing, but I can't clearly remember) but a lot of the other books we read were really good, like Goodnight Mister Tom. We didn't do many classics, except for Shakespeare, which did, admittedly, have all the life sucked out of it, which was such a shame.

message 35: by Magda Żmijan (new)

Magda Żmijan | 76 comments my teachers seem to keep only to the "must read at school" list of books which doesn't really contain much fantasy and sf
The only thing I remember reading for school was The Cyberiad which was great :) ooh and Akademia Pana Kleksa in earlier years. I had to reach for other books by myself.

message 36: by kvon (new)

kvon | 562 comments We read Watership Down, 1984 (in 1982), and Riddley Walker. I don't think I appreciated how much sff they were giving to us. Although I don't think WD benefited much from the political dissection.

message 37: by Scott (new)

Scott (thekeeblertree) sadly, no ... never really had any english teachers that were very involved in engaging us in reading. well, either that or i wasn't receptive to it.

took me a while to find i enjoyed fantasy but better late than never.

message 38: by James (new)

James H. (jhedrick) | 128 comments When given a choice, I always read and reported on fantasy/sci-fi books. I remember my report on Stranger in a Strange Land (P.S. - Everyone go watch Ridley Scott's "Prophets of Science Fiction" if you haven't yet. It's on Netflix and really interesting, with one entire show on Heinlein.) Heinlein's books were removed from the school library shortly thereafter (late 90's if anyone's interested in timeframe). I think I was the only one that had ever read them.

message 39: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8768 comments I can't recall ever reading anything SF/F beyond Shakespeare, who gets special dispensation in that regard.

I don't think we even read A Christmas Carol, despite reading every other damn Dickens book. Maybe it was too short.

message 40: by Marc (new)

Marc The Camus's The Stranger count as fantasy. ;) I thought it was so weird and off kilter when I read it in HS it sort of struck me as fantasy...other than that Brave New World is the only book that comes to mind that was assigned reading that would be vaguely called fantasy/SF.

message 41: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 3 comments We read Slaughterhouse-Five for Honors English. Does watching "Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land" count as fantasy?

message 42: by Jenelle (last edited Mar 05, 2014 01:33PM) (new)

Jenelle Yes... but I was homeschooled through 8th grade... so technically everything we read was "in school" LOL

Really "for" school, we did read "The Hobbit," "A Wrinkle in Time," and "The Giver" (which I guess is more dystopian than fantasy or sf).

In high school we read mostly classics and Shakespeare (who is a category unto himself). After I graduated, however, they introduced a new class called "The Inklings" and my brother took it, and they read (and watched) The Lord of the Rings, and read some of George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis. I was highly jealous.

In college we read Brave New World and Out of the Silent Planet. And for my final paper I did a literary analysis of Lillith and Till We Have Faces (I got to pick the works I analyzed).

As an English teacher, my dream job would be to teach a class that covers fantasy and sci-fi. Shannara and The Pendragon Cycle, and perhaps the Thrawn Trilogy... books like that would be so much fun to discuss in a class.

Alas, probably won't happen. Book clubs would work, but you can never seem to find book clubs for those types of books, either. Most book clubs circle around genres I have no interest in.

message 43: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8768 comments Jenelle wrote: "Alas, probably won't happen. Book clubs would work, but you can never seem to find book clubs for those types of books, either. Most book clubs circle around genres I have no interest in."

My library has both SF and Fantasy book clubs. Maybe yours does, too.

message 44: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (nevets) | 1612 comments Trike, as I was reading your comment I was hearing the line from "Blues Brothers" 'We got both types of music, Country And Western.'

message 45: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8768 comments John wrote: "Trike, as I was reading your comment I was hearing the line from "Blues Brothers" 'We got both types of music, Country And Western.'"

Oddly enough, the clubs meet in the Rawhide Reading Room.

(Not really. But wouldn't that be hilarious?)

message 46: by Walter (new)

Walter Spence (walterspence) | 707 comments I don't recall there being much fantasy or sf available at my schools. I remember reading a number of the Oz books in junior high, and also remember reading Alas, Babylon as an assignment for an English Lit class years later. Not sure to what degree that last one qualifies as sf, though. Do remember reading a lot of mythology, particularly Greek and Norse, somewhere in there. And Shakespeare as well, of course.

But I didn't get what I'd consider a proper introduction to either genre until after graduation. Someone loaned me The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, those books were like a drug. A year or so later a married couple who were counselors at the junior college I attended loaned me all of The Chronicles of Narnia. I did practically nothing for the next two days except read them in my dorm room.

After that I was completely hooked. Couldn't find much genre fiction in my small southern town, so a lot of what I read came from the Science Fiction Book Club. Was introduced to a lot of the classics that way. Still have a number of them (Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber, etc.) in my study/library/junk room upstairs.

message 47: by Marty (new)

Marty (itsmarty) We never had a fantasy or sf book assigned that I can remember (possibly A Wrinkle In Time), so the closest I was able to get was doing a report for high school English on The Three Musketeers.

I remember being shocked and happy that it was unclaimed by the time the list got around to me.

message 48: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1154 comments I read plenty of SFF in school...hidden behind my textbooks while supposedly studying. Other than that we officially read Animal Farm and 1984 and A Midsummer Night's Dream. We got summer reading lists where each book on it was assigned points and we had to read a certain amount of points so I always chose the hugest books - Gone With the Wind, Hunchback of Notre Dame. I really hated having to read what they chose for me, and always thought of my reading SFF in my free time as subversive and rebellious. Gosh, I was such a radical.

message 49: by L. (new)

L. Shosty As far as sf/fantasy that was taught in school, we read "There Will Come Soft Rains" (Bradbury) and "Rain, Rain Go Away" (Asimov). I remember that because of the use of the word rain in the title. Both of those were assigned in 8th grade. In high school Flowers for Algernon The Once and Future King were both taught. Not bad for an otherwise small-minded rural school in Texas.

And slightly OT, but we also read The Monkey's Paw, which I mention because it's typically considered horror. It made such an impression on our class our teachers took us to see a stage production.

message 50: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6376 comments Martian Chronicles in English. Science Fiction Hall of Fame in a Literature of Science Fiction class.

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