Calling All Literary Women: I Need To Borrow Your Brains

by @thewritermama on July 11, 2011 · 61 comments

Okay, so here’s the deal. If you visit your average American high school, you might think, since this is 2011 and not 1911, that you would find that about half of the literature being assigned as mandatory reading would be by women. Right?

I mean there is plenty of great literature out there by women. And women constitute half of the population. So it stands to reason that half of the books getting assigned on the high school level would be by women.


And sadly this is just not what is happening. And I think I have figured out what the problem is. The problem is the moms are not speaking up. We are not insisting and demanding that women writers get read at the high school level. We are not voicing our clear opinion that literature by women is just as important as literature written by men. We are not making it clear to our daughter’s and son’s teachers and administrators that we don’t just want this level of equality in the classroom, we think that it is way overdue.

There is no definitive list of women authors who are age-appropriate at the high school level, at least not one that I am aware of. So, in conversation with my husband, a high-school English teacher who has had to listen to me complain year-after-year about the lack of women being studied in his and other teachers’ classrooms, we came up with this plan.

I would post my opinion on my blog: my opinion that women writers deserve to be read at the high school level just as much as men writers, in case you missed it.

And I would solicit input from all of my intelligent women friends as to which books she be added to “The List.”

I’m not sure just yet what exactly I plan to do with “The List.” But I think the first step is to create the list and to share it with other concerned women and then take it from there.

So…which books belong on “The List” of women writers worthy of high school assigned reading your opinion?

I have some ideas. I’ll add my ideas in the comments below along with everyone’s ideas.

Go team! Let’s co-create a new high school reading list, starting right here, right now. Thanks for your input!

[Added: Yes! Let’s includes the names and authors of important short stories as well as books.]

[Added later: Let’s also include plays, poems, and anything literary enough to endure time that made an impact on you as a young woman.]

[Ooo, another juicy idea is to include well-written biographies of women writers. And I think it’s great to include memoirs with these suggestions so long as they are well written.]

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