Weber Reads: Tom Sawyer

tom sawyer and huck finn title

2009-2010

This year, Weber Reads is trying some new ideas.  First, the planning committee of Weber Reads decided on a two-year program, working with texts that complement and enrich one another.  We chose for 2010 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.  While we acknowledge that this book is considered by many to be a classic, we also know that other thoughtful readers believe it should not be taught to young people as it uses language and expresses attitudes that are hurtful and dangerous reminders of America’s racist past.

Because the book does ask us to look at and examine this past, we decided to pair The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with other voices, those of slave narratives, most prominently The Narrative of the Life of a Slave (1845) by Frederick Douglass and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) by Harriet Jacobs, which we will read and discuss during year 2011.    

We also decided to include in our discussion of Twain’s work The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for students in elementary and junior high schools. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has never been considered a book for younger readers, due to its darker themes and difficult structure.  To remain true to our commitment to selecting books for "All persons, regardless of age or reading ability," we invited Tom along for the journey.