In the 1990s, the old guard of educators—mainly white men like Harold Bloom—decried the decline and of the Western canon. In general, the Harold Blooms of the world lost that argument. High school reading lists today are far more diverse and are—as my high school English teachers feared—diluted in quality. The classics have been pared back, to make way for new ideas and more diverse voices.

Case in point: my wife is teaching The Hunger Games to high school juniors this school year. I have read The Hunger Games and could probably craft a few lessons based on its material, but I don’t think of it as literature; it’s a fun Y.A. beach read devoid of subtext. The dilution in quality is not a function of the increase in diversity. It’s a function of trying to hold kids’ attention.

I think it must be possible to make classic literature interesting and relevant to high school students. That said, it is a challenge I do not face.