Clean Reads discussion

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High School Booklist Substitutions

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message 1: by Rachel (last edited Apr 11, 2011 09:54AM) (new)

Rachel (whitepicketfence) | 89 comments My daughters high school class is starting to read "Lord of the Flies" which we don't feel comfortable with and we have been given permission by the teacher to read an alternative book with a similar theme (the breakdowns of civilization--savagery verses civilization). The tricky part is we are looking for something without graphic violence or any gore (and of course we want it to be clean=). Any suggestions out there?


message 2: by joy (last edited Apr 12, 2011 09:48AM) (new)

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* (joytotheworld) | 98 comments i've searched through my shelves, but this is a tough question, rachel! first off, it has been years since i read most classics, so my memories of their cleanreads content may be murky. don't shoot me if i'm wrong, in other words! i do think, though, that i have a good understanding of your standards, so that should recommend my recommendations. :)

perhaps, perhaps, Heart of Darkness. it has been a couple decades since i've read it, but it would fit the assigned theme. i believe it's not graphic or gory, though i remember hating it in high school. what a lovely recommendation, i know. ;)

there is, of course, The Hunger Games, which would fit the theme but is very likely more violent than lord of the flies itself. *in an aside here, i firmly believe that HG would be a much better choice for a high school lit class than LotF, despite its recentness and popularity!*

what about something like Fahrenheit 451? it's more dystopian oppression than savagery, but it is a classic, and i remember it being fairly PG.

i don't remember how much gore there is in Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. anyone else know? that would be a great savage/civilized dichotomy.

ooh, what about Watership Down?

hope that gives you somewhere to start, at least!


message 3: by MaryBliss (new)

MaryBliss | 45 comments Umm. As I recall, Heart of Darkness has human heads mounted on poles. May be beyond Rachel's limits.

Here are a few suggestions:

Green Mansions by W.H. Hudson, a classic written in 1904 that has been a staple of many high school English classes in the past. Green Mansions touches on the subjects of the loss of wilderness, the dream of a return to nature, and the bitter reality of the encounter between savage and civilized man.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The story of a Nigerian man and his village during the beginning of the colonial period as cultures clash and the confusion as one disintegrates in the encroachment of another.

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. Culture and chaos as it affects an illiterate Chinese farmer, his family and his land during cultural upheavals, political chaos and revolution. Beautifully written.

The Eagle of the Ninth, the Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers, a trilogy written by Rosemary Sutcliffe about the struggle of various individuals to survive with integrity as the Roman rule of Britain declines and fails and chaos begins to ensue.


message 4: by MaryBliss (new)

MaryBliss | 45 comments oops. No "e" on the end of "Sutcliff".


message 5: by joy (new)

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* (joytotheworld) | 98 comments MaryBliss wrote: "Umm. As I recall, Heart of Darkness has human heads mounted on poles. May be beyond Rachel's limits...."

that may be well beyond her limits, i'd say. *blush*


message 6: by Christine (new)

Christine (steensteen) I'd suggest Gone by Michael Grant. It's been described as "Lord of the Flies" if it were written by Stephen King.

It's not light reading, but then, neither is Lord of the Flies. It's clean--no sex, no swearing (as I remember), and no savage murder, beside the monster. But that's not graphic, so it's all right.

It's newer, so it might not fly, but it's one of my favorite novels.


message 7: by joy (new)

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* (joytotheworld) | 98 comments Christine wrote: "I'd suggest Gone by Michael Grant. It's been described as "Lord of the Flies" if it were written by Stephen King."

yep, if the English teacher would go for that one, i'd say it's slightly less gruesome than LotF. i have my doubts as to whether literarily that's an acceptable substitute, though.

also, though the theme match is a stretch, i could wholeheartedly second the recommendation of the
Rosemary Sutcliff books above.


message 8: by Melody (new)

Melody Savage | 15 comments Rachel wrote: "My daughters high school class is starting to read "Lord of the Flies" which we don't feel comfortable with and we have been given permission by the teacher to read an alternative book with a simil..."

Would "Gathering Blue" by Lois Lowry fit? It's about a society that rejects people who have some kind of defect, and how a small group of people triumph over the savagery with love and respect for people. Clean with a great message. I think there was some minimal violence to show how wrongfully people were treated.


message 9: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (whitepicketfence) | 89 comments Thank you all for your help! I feel very protected by your thoughtfulness to my sensitivities. I am grateful for your suggestions and am sure we can use one of them. I feel especially comfortable with "Gathering Blue", "Watership Down" and Mary's list. Someone else suggested "The Call of the Wild". Most of those are on a JV level but her teacher is alright with that as long as she is able to contribute thoughtfully to class discussion, so we have a variety to choose from. Success!


message 10: by MaryBliss (new)

MaryBliss | 45 comments Gathering Blue. Good suggestion. Since it's generally read by people younger than Jr. in HS age I'd not included it, but if it's okay with your daughter's teacher, that would be a good one too, in my opinion.


message 11: by joy (new)

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* (joytotheworld) | 98 comments Rachel wrote: "Thank you all for your help! I feel very protected by your thoughtfulness to my sensitivities. I am grateful for your suggestions and am sure we can use one of them. I feel especially comfortable w..."

protected by everyone but joy, who's still bumbling around in the dark. ;)
glad we could help! it's honestly very nice to be able to circle the wagons and provide a layer of insulation for you and your sweet, sensitive family.


message 12: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (whitepicketfence) | 89 comments Joy,
My older sister thinks I'm a complicated frustration and a librarians worst nightmare--I go down to my little branch and ask for suggestions, then site Dickens as a favourite author (failing to mention that I only like SOME of his books) and then shake my head when they produce something equivalent to "The Tale of Two Cities", and when I send them back with instructions for "no violence", it is their turn to shake their heads. I know I'm hard work. Thanks for your patience and for not giving up! =)


message 13: by joy (new)

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* (joytotheworld) | 98 comments Rachel wrote: "Joy,
My older sister thinks I'm a complicated frustration and a librarians worst nightmare..."


au contraire! while i have not yet officially taken up a career in a library, it has certainly been a possibility for me, and i would love to have more patrons like you. :) i'd much rather explore the shelves in search of good, if rare books, than point yet another person to the magazine, paperback romance, or worse, the "graphic novel" section.


message 14: by joy (new)

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* (joytotheworld) | 98 comments Rachel wrote: " Dickens as a favourite author ..."

have you read
Girl in a Blue Dress? i'd say there's about 80% chance that you'd love it. :) it got a rare 5 star review from me, is quite PG, and features Dickens' work and family life prominently.
give it a try!


message 15: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 21, 2011 05:20AM) (new)

I went through this for years when my daughter was in school. In fact, I ended up writing her a book because she asked for an alternative, but that's another story.

I previewed every book on her reading lists. It was tedious and frustrating. Most were modern PC agenda driven or from Oprah's Book List. I had to find substitutes all the time. I turned to the old classics, something that was sadly lacking on the lists. Whichever book you chose, base it upon the child's taste and personality.

If you want a suggestion for the same theme as Lord of the Flies, but a classic - Victor Hugo's Les Miserable, is good about overturning of society during the French Revolution. About one man's obsession to hunt down a man he believes is a criminal, but who paid his debt to society and must endure his persecutor to protect his family set against revolution.


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