“Divergent” by Veronica Roth – further reflections

I took a look at the Amazon entry for this book, and what do I see at the bottom of the description?

Supports the Common Core State Standards”

Can somebody tell me what this means? Divergent is part of an American education? Why? Is it “literature”? Is it being taught in high schools? It is reasonably grammatical. Is that what it takes to “support the Common Core Standards”?

So why am I surprised? I know that The Giver, also decidedly dystopian, is taught in middle schools.

On the one hand, I’m all for books that youngsters will actually (and enthusiastically) read. I was delighted by the Harry Potter series. But that was FANTASY. It got “darker” as the story line progressed, but was ultimately a story in which good (including hard work, loyalty, intelligence) triumphed. When the last book came out, a friend posted on Facebook “Thank you, JK Rowling, for helping me raise my children”. I know what he meant. I think many families found that Harry, Ron and Hermione became “part of the family”. We cared about them.

The Harry Potter series does not bear the “Common Core Standards” imprimatur, at least not on the Amazon website.

So I guess this means I don’t think every book that gets kids reading is equally worthwhile. What about the Twilight series? Vampire romances… It’s not marked “Common Core Standards”. I think I read one volume and was not impressed. If my child brought it home from high school, I would be on the phone complaining.

So what do I have against Divergent, besides personally finding it depressing? Does it glorify risk taking? If so, is it any different from all the high risk action on TV and in the movies? Here’s an issue – it emphasizes corruption in people in positions of authority, a problem I acknowledge. Would it “push” a person towards conspiracy theory, the fear that ALL authority is hopelessly corrupt? Is it asocial or antisocial?

Enough… I like literature with some element of transcendence. I like to see people learn, resolve, grow, accomplish, and often this takes place in the face of daunting challenges. I suppose I should read the whole trilogy to see if Divergent supplies this. But I’m not sure I want to invest the time.

Does Divergent belong in the high schools? I’d love to hear your opinion! And what’s the BEST (contemporary) book currently being taught?

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3 thoughts on ““Divergent” by Veronica Roth – further reflections

  1. This made me laugh. I wonder if some anti core type (I don’t even know where this falls in the political spectrum, or if it’s all over) has a blog with all the awful things that someone has marked “supports common core standards”.

  2. I know the Hunger Games is currently being taught in Secondary Schools here in England. I think it’s because Dystopian Future novels are becoming increasingly popular. It’s taught alongside 1984 by Orwell, which I personally find a fascinating read. I think it’s important that young people question their government and their motives, to hold them to account. It’s a way for them to think for themselves rather than naively believe everything they hear. That being said, I really don’t think the majority of school children are going to start believing in conspiracies theories etc because of the books. 🙂

    1. Hello! Thought I would let you know I posted two more reflections on books in the public schools. They are dated March 5 and March 10. Comments would be welcome. I am now following your blog. I hope March is pleasant in your part of the world!

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