Solomon’s Story: 12 Years a Slave to Be Taught in Schools
By Laura Mooney, Arts Editor
High school students across North America will be adding a new novel to their reading lists come September of the 2014 school year. 12 Years a Slave, the harrowing tale about the life of Solomon Northrop will be added to English curriculum in order to provide a fresh view of slavery for students. The novel, which has seen a burst of success thanks to the Academy Award winning film of the same name, will be incorporated along with a study guide so that students will be able to experience the message of Northrop’s life to the full extent. There is even some speculation that the film will be used as a teaching tool alongside the novel for full coverage.
The inclusion of 12 Years a Slave marks an important shift in the types of novels that are selected for teaching in schools. Now school administrators have a whole new area of literature to select from, and can add novels that the general student will have heard of outside of the school environment. So not only was 12 Years a Slave an important piece of literature, but it is an immensely popular one. Chances are that by September 2014, many of the students who will be studying the book will have already seen the film or at least will have heard about it. This may encourage more students to put more effort into reading assigned novels, and in turn cause some excitement in the classroom.
In an interview, director of 12 Years a Slave’s film adaptation, Steve McQueen, stated that this was something he had always dreamed of once he brought Solomon Northrop’s story into the public eye. McQueen stated that he wished to make Northrop’s story as familiar to the general public as Anne Frank’s, and incorporation into the schools was one huge step towards doing so. He went on to say that ,by including 12 Years a Slave, it not only opens the world up to the horrors of America’s past, but it enlightens students to the injustices that are still occurring to this day and are happening all around the world.
Whether or not Northrop’s recounted life will reach the same level of fame as Anne Frank’s remains open for debate, but 12 Years a Slave will no doubt be a worthy addition to the school curriculum and will now be remembered and retold for decades to come.