Welcome to Mrs. Brecht's Bookshelf. Here you can read reviews of books that I read personally and books that I enjoy reading to my sons. Read more about our Caldecott journey here and about my decision to read banned/challenged books here. I'll also periodically post fun reading-related activities and ideas. Who knows, I may even start doing some book giveaways if I get enough readers!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lord of the Flies

Title: Lord of the Flies

Author: William Golding

Summary: A group of adolescent boys between the ages of 6 and 12 are marooned on a deserted island. There are no adults, so they must rely on themselves to survive and to seek a means of rescue. At first, all is fun and games, and the children enjoy the society they have created and the ability to live as they wish. However, as hopes of rescue begin to diminish, things begin to unravel. The boys turn against each other, causing a terrifyingly violent chaos that ultimately shows the depravity of man (even as children) when left to his own devices.

Why it's been challenged: The book has been challenged for its extreme violence and gore (at first in the hunting of animals and then in the children's treatment of each other). Others challenge the book on issues of racism, profanity, and sex. I personally did not feel these themes were abused in the book. One school challenged the book because it is "demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal". Ummmm...well, theologically, I do believe that man, in his natural state, is a despicable creature, so I have no issues with that aspect of the book. (ALA)

If I were still teaching, would I allow my class of high schoolers to read this book? Hmmm...yes, I think I would. I would probably write a disclosure letter to the parents and ask for permission first. Some of the passages are really quite disturbing due to their violence (but most teens probably see this quite often in the movies they watch). However, I would probably opt to teach Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game". It is much more tame but still deals with a similar topic and the idea that man is an evil creature.


  1. Martha Ruth-
    I recently read a book that suggested Lord of the Flies (which I read in jr hi or high school, and none of the disturbing stuff phased me, I barely remember it) should be read by college students (or others) doing service learning (volunteer service) as it would help them process their motives and the lives of others. . .would you agree? What do you think about it in those terms?

    1. I honestly don't see a clear connection between the book and service learning. I guess the main characters Ralph and Jack have differing views on the needs of the clan (one focuses on rescue, while the other focuses on meat). So, that could potentially tie in to motives for serving others. But I think it's a bit of a stretch.

      I think Lord of the Flies would make great discussion for students who have leadership roles (such as student government). Or for a newly-created group that needs to work as a cohesive whole while establishing united goals and expectations. But for a volunteer service group? I'm not convinced.

      I think a good book for students preparing to do service learning and thinking about motives of service might be The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I like how the book began with the protagonist as the one in need of service, but then switched from she being the one served to she being the one serving others. Yet, as she served, her own needs were met, as well.

  2. I have been an avid reader since I was 8. I first read Lord of the Flies when I was 12 (for fun) and then again as a Sophomore in High School, in my district 12 years ago it was required reading. One of my favorite books (and one of my best papers). For some reason I always compare it to Brave New World, probably because I read both books for the first time at around the same time.

    1. That's so interesting that you connect Lord of the Flies and Brave New World. I was a pretty avid reader as a kiddo, too. When I was about 12, I had a big ol' Complete Works of Mark Twain that I tried to read. I never made it through!