Staff editorial: Women’s classic books should be taught in the classroom

Editorial Board

For years the high school literature curriculum has included books with little diversity or representation for women. It is important for students to be exposed to various viewpoints by reading the works of female authors.

Female authors are vastly underrepresented in high school reading curricula. By having so little diversity, students are limited to few perspectives that may inaccurately represent women. The Bellevue Public Schools reading list should be revisited in order to provide sufficient representation for all authors.

The Bellevue Public Schools reading list details required and optional readings for each grade level. All required books are written by men. Books written by female authors are in a section that says “choose at least one” where they are the odd one out in a list full of male authors.

From 9th through 12th grade, there are a total of 146 books on the list. When including non-required options, only 37 of these books were written by women. 

Often male authors write books with primarily male main characters. When women are represented as characters in these novels, it is often inaccurate or stereotypical. 

For example, “Of Mice and Men,” written by John Steinbeck, portrays Curley’s wife (one of the very few female characters in the book) as promiscuous and she is objectified by the other men on the farm. These portrayals of women not only make women feel like they aren’t being accurately represented, but also that they are seen as objects in everyday society.

By teaching classic books written by women, students are opened up to new perspectives. Students can see women represented in a more diverse way by a female author and get insight into a different way of thinking. Requiring students to read literature written by women is long overdue.