20 Bad Books To Give To Young Kids

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Screencap from the 1990 film version of Lord of the Flies (Image via Columbia Pictures)

18. Lord of the Flies

True story: I actually read this in middle school. Our school had a program where students would voluntarily read books and take tests for each one. For every right answer, you’d get a certain number of points. Get enough points, and you start scoring some sweet prizes, like, uh, more books or the distant, golden vision of a pizza party.

Lord of the Flies had a whopping number of points. So, of course, I decided to read it. I was greedy, honestly. I was thinking mostly about eating some delicious pizza when I started the book. When I ended it, I felt a little bit like I had visited a war zone. I’d learned something new about humanity and it wasn’t a pleasant lesson.

Written in 1954, Lord of the Flies tells the story of a group of British schoolboys who are wrecked on a remote tropical island. At first, they try to govern themselves with the same structure that they’ve seen in adults. Things start off okay – they begin building shelter, start a signal fire, and even establish a communication system in which the person holding a conch shell has the right to be heard.

Things quickly go awry, however. Many boys become bored with the building projects and abandon their duties. Others begin telling tales of a “beast” lurking in the jungle. The signal fire dies down and fails to attract a passing ship. Soon, many of the schoolchildren begin offering sacrifices to the beast and becoming violent. They begin killing some of the other boys and, in the course of their work, set fire to practically the whole island. A passing ship investigates the fire and provides an escape, but it’s too late for the schoolchildren to reclaim their innocence.