Our school’s shelves seem to be amply stocked with current titles such as Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, or Eragon, but seem to be heavily lacking the classic titles such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Red Badge of Course, and The Lord of the Rings. I know that most classes do have these titles, but, from my experience, they seem to be on a separate shelf in the comer, or in a pile in a box. Whenever a language arts teacher announces to the class that they’ll be working with a classic title, far too often the students seem to shrink in their seats and groan in reluctance.

What I believe to be a main reason for this is the fact that people do in fact judge books by their covers; in the most literal sense of the term. There is no feeling like reading a new book, the pages in perfect alignment, so white and crisp, it’s as if you can smell the ink from the press. Then, you turn to the shelf filled with classics. You pick up an old beat-up copy of The War of the Worlds. When you open the cover, three pages fall out. You look at the table of contents, losing two more pages. Flip through the book a couple times, four more pages. Then, the binding goes, and you are left with a pile of loose pages and a book cover. Simply put, the new books look better right off the press, and the older books usually have been sitting in neglect on various shelves for about fifteen or twenty years.

The point of it all is, a language arts teacher goes to a book store. They see a brand new Harry Potter book sitting on a shelf next to Dragon’s Blood. “The kids will read Harry Potter more,’ they think, ‘Even though it costs $20 more.” If the copyright date wasn’t there, the cover was new, and it was sitting next Eoin Golfer’s latest book students would be encouraged to read less than five-year-old titles.

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