Edit: Yet again, here is my obligatory this-is-an-old-paper.
What makes a book a classic? While there is no literary cannon committee, there are some notable authorities on the subject; politicians, professors, and well-off publishing companies seem to have more power over which works of literature are distributed in a broader range, but, who is in charge of deciding what books that pupils are designated to read?
With Frankenstein, a new literary genre was born. In Jane Eyre, we see a character grow up and develop before our very eyes. Animal Farm enlightened us on the futile aspects of the government which some refused to acknowledge. The Hunger Games mixed genre boundaries and created a post-apocalyptic society.
Every semester, students are assigned certain books which they have to read, write papers on, and answer tests on. However, who should pick these books? If it is left up to an appointed committee, what would be the qualifications for committee members? Would the committee attempt to push an agenda? If the book selection is left up to individual schools or teachers, what can be said about accreditation? If every school or even class had a different to-read list, could the credits obtained from taking that course be transferable?
Should students be required to read a book that they do not enjoy? If they are, they may fall in love with a story which they never would have expected. But, they also might grow to dislike reading by reading things which they consider to be boring. If they are not forced to read certain books, will they miss out on a wonderful story or discovering a new favorite author? With some students, it could be questioned that if they are not required to read, will they even read at all?
One book that I believe should certainly be a required read is Animal Farm by George Orwell. In this book, Orwell gives a satirical overview of the Russian Revolution and communism. He discusses leaders without ever saying their real names. He sticks to history and tells the inside story. It is a classic due to the ingenious telling of the story, being a timeless tale (those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it), and its historical relevance.
While any book can be argued as a classic, only some books are capable of altering society. Books, essentially, are just compilations of words. Words create ideas, and ideas can change the world. So, if you want to make a difference, pick up a book, it can give you a whole new perspective.