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An English teacher's love letter to reading and the many ways literature can make us, and our lives, better.
How can a Victorian poem help teenagers understand YouTube misogyny? Can Jane Eyre encourage us to speak out? What can Lady Macbeth teach us about empathy? Should our expectations for our future be any greater than Pip’s? And why is it so important to make space for these conversations in the first place?
In a career spanning almost three decades, English teacher Carol Atherton has taught generations of students texts that will be familiar to many of us from our own schooldays. But while the staples of exam syllabuses and reading lists remain largely unchanged, their significance – and their relevance – evolves with each class, as it encounters them for the first time.
Each chapter of Reading Lessons invites us to take a fresh look at these novels, plays and poems, revealing how they have shaped our beliefs, our values, and how we interact as a society. As she recalls her own development as a teacher, Atherton emphasizes the vital, undervalued role a teacher plays, illustrates how essential reading is for developing our empathy and makes a passionate case for the enduring power of literature.