50 Classics From (Almost) Everyone’s High School Reading List

A total of 1,002 voters picked the most essential reading required for students. The final ranking takes into account how many times each book was voted on and how highly voters ranked them. Read on to see which classics made the list. 

The Importance of Being Earnest

This comedic play by Oscar Wilde takes a satiric look at Victorian social values while following two men—Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff—as they tell lies to bring some excitement to their lives. 

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The Red Badge of Courage

In “The Red Badge of Courage,” Henry Fleming enlists in the Union Army, enticed by visions of glory. When the reality of war and battle set in, Fleming retreats in fear. In the end, he faces his cowardice and rises to leadership. 

2

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing

Maya Angelou, who was raped by her mother’s boyfriend when she was 8, writes about her experience with sexual assault and racism while growing up in the Jim Crow South in “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”  

3

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” takes place in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, during the 1840s. Tom Sawyer and his friend Huck Finn witness a murder by Joe. After the boys stay silent, the wrong man is accused of the crime. 

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