Another day, another post about Heartstopper and Alice Oseman in general. Don’t worry…I’m not going to fangirl the book series again. I’m wanting to put forward an idea for why I think Heartstopper should be put on school reading lists.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has the odd couple of books stuck in my head. For me I have Of Mice and Men and Pig Heart Boy renting space in my brain. Though these books have decades in between them, both have a powerful message to share with students. I believe that Alice Oseman’s books carry the same power to shape the lives of the teenagers who read them.
*cracks knuckles* Okay, let me show you my reasons!
1. The series is based mostly in a school
There are so many YA books out there that are set in a school environment such as Harry Potter, Malory Towers and even Twilight. Obviously the characters are stuck there. You see their home life, their free time and life away from school. Heartstopper does exactly this! It starts at Truham Grammar School for Boys with Charlie starting Year 10 and Nick starting Year 11.
Alice is super clever with how she brings the school to life through her drawings. She shows the odd lesson like English or P.E, includes glimpses of timetables and revision notes. You definitely don’t get such an indepth glimpse into a fictional world in other YA books.
I reckon any secondary school kid will see similarities to their own school life and connect to the series.
2. It has a variety of LGBTQIA+ characters
One of the key elements to this series is that it has so many characters who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. You have a few who are gay, transgender and bisexual. This is a topic that needs to be spoken more openly in schools. For years it has carried a taboo. Whether it’s because the students are too young or could ‘have their minds altered’, it’s been kept behind closed doors.
It’s 2021, people!
This should not be happening!
Teenagers are discovering their identity/sexuality regardless and Heartstopper gives them that freedom. Charlie and Nick’s journey provides a safe space for them to explore.
3. The series explores difficult situations
Any book that has a character go through challenging yet relatable situations is a winner for me. There are a handful of moments where you feel super uncomfortable and have to watch the character live through it. While it might make teenagers cringe, it’s vital they experience this. You have no idea what a student could be going through at home and they could see their home life in the series.
- Mental Health
- Eating Disorders
Alice doesn’t sugar-coat these moments to make it easier for the reader. She puts them right in the moment, slurs and all. While there might be some parents who don’t want to expose their kids to this, it’s necessary. How else will they learn that actions have consequences? Words provide the lesson without the danger!
4. Graphic novels caters for any reading level
Hands up who struggled to read lengthy paragraphs in English?
As much as I adore reading, even I struggled to take in a never-ending chapter. If a student has difficulties in concentration (ADHD), pictures with words can really help in keeping their focus! It’s such a unique reading experience!
Not only do you get the story through the eyes of different characters, it also makes the experience more enjoyable for reluctant readers! It helps that some of the drawings show social media such as Instagram and everyone knows how obsessed teens can be when it comes to that.
I would love for any readers who are teachers to share their thoughts on this, especially if you teach English or Social Studies. Have any of you used graphic adaptations of popular books in your lessons to help students engage with the story?
Do you think the Heartstopper series should be put on school reading lists?