What Should High School Students Read? You Tell Us

What five books do you think literate people should have read by the time they graduate from high school?

We'd like to see your list - and comments on how you made your choices.

The topic produces heated arguments. It's especially important now, as more states try to beef up curriculum standards and improve literacy.

To get us started, we called John Silber, chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education and a longtime advocate of tougher standards. He gave us 10 - and kept on going.

First off, the Bible. "I think no one is educated if they haven't read the story of Adam and Eve and the creation," Dr. Silber began. "They certainly need to read the confrontation of King David by Nathan. This was a confrontation that established that even the king is not superior to the law.... That was of fundamental importance in the development of democracy."

Silber wants state public schools to teach a common curriculum. His board members have also proposed a list of classic books for all elementary and high school students to read.

The following is his informal list:

Jane Austen - "Pride and Prejudice"

Hillaire Belloc - "Cautionary Verses"

Lord Byron - "Destruction of Sennacherib"

Charles Darwin - "Origin of the Species"

Charles Dickens - "Tale of Two Cities," "Oliver Twist"

Ralph Ellison - "The Invisible Man"

Homer - "Odyssey"

Victor Hugo - "Les Miserables"

James Weldon Johnson - "God's Trombones," "Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man"

Helen Keller - "The Story of My Life"

Martin Luther King Jr. - "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

John Milton - poetry

Octavio Paz - "Labyrinth of Solitude"

Shakespeare - "Macbeth," "Julius Caesar," "Henry V," "Othello"

Sophocles - "Antigone"

Jonathan Swift - "Gulliver's Travels"

Mark Twain - "Huckleberry Finn"

Aesop's Fables

Analects of Confucius

The Bible

Mother Goose

Parables of Buddha

The Declaration of Independence

The United States Constitution

The Federalist Papers

Send your annotated list to:

Reading List, Education Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA, 02115; or by e-mail to:


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