Recently some friend of a friend asked me what I planned to do with my life and upon hearing "librarian" immediately responded with: "Oh! So you must really love the classics!" No. I don't have to must love anything, thank you very much.
Granted, my knowledge of the "classics" isn't wonderful. I own most of them and they have their own little designated area on my too cramped bookshelf, but usually I think they're a waste of shelf space when I come home with a bag full of new books.
Are classics worthy? I'm sure they are. I'm sure there are plenty of great reasons for students and/or readers to deconstruct meaning from Great Expectations or what have you, but just because someone deemed them a "classic" doesn't mean they should sit year after year on students' required reading lists. Doing so causes people to refuse to acknowledge the existence of wonderful, NEWER books that are just as well written and engaging and possibly better. It's a classic (heh) case of being blinded by nostalgia. "I had to read these books as a child, so they should too" or "It was written before technology destroyed our minds, they must read them" or "Things my generation experienced will never be matched by any other generation, therefore we must subject the children to the same books." No. The only time that last argument is acceptable is when discussing the near flawlessness of 90s Nickelodeon shows. That is it. (Kids who grew up without Clarissa Explains it All are just deprived).
I just really hate when people put them on a pedestal when other books are just as deserving. While I clearly put Harry Potter up on a pedestal and think it will become a classic children's adventure series, I don't doubt for a second that something just as amazing will pop up in the future (I'll weep, but get over it...maybe).
While not all students are terribly bored with these "wonders," most are and as a result of being forced to read them (or watching the movie counterpart to avoid doing so), they risk ending up choosing not to read for pleasure. I'm not saying that students should never read the classics because the books do have their merits hidden in there somewhere, but they shouldn't be approached with the idea that they are the "best." They aren't. They're racist. They're boring. They're not targeted towards the minds of today's youth. Etc, etc. Instead, they should be paired with more recent publications, ones that mirror the sentiment, but in a more modern fashion that allows today's young adult to relate. That way you can bridge the gap between the past and present and open up a discussion in which students will most likely feel more comfortable participating.
Most people think this reaction to classics stems from laziness. Not the case. I can read through them in a breeze. Sometimes I actually think modern books are more difficult to read. It took me a few chapters to fully understand the structure of The Book Thief and graphic novels actually take me about 3 times as long to read. New doesn't mean depraved. There's just a different structure. Young adult books are actually the most inventive books on the market. As teenagers are trying to find their own voice, they're more open to reading inventive pieces to see what fits for them. Hence the success of the Chaos Walking trilogy, The Hunger Games, The Book Thief and, it pains me to say it, Twilight. Sometimes reading these series even leads young adult readers to exploring the classics on their own. My sister was obsessed with Twilight and ended up reading Dracula on her own. Now she knows that Twilight is crap, which is the one bonus that come from reading that horrorific excuse for a novel. This is hurting my argument, Twilight is awful, but the others are wonderous. Actually, there are definitely awful young adult books out there, you just need to sift through them and select ones that will get the job done.
So to sum up, I do not love classics because I'm going to be a librarian. I am pro-new books. Yay!