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Books that children / teens ought to read to 'get' cultural references?

(19 Posts)
Takver Fri 27-Sep-13 11:32:30

The example I'm thinking of is Hitchhiker's Guide - 42 as the meaning of the universe, putting a fish in your ear - things that get referred to in everyday conversation

Also Jane Eyre - Mr Rochester is another 'cultural reference' and Wuthering Heights for Heathcliff/Cathy

What other books do you think fall into this category?

NoComet Fri 27-Sep-13 11:41:00

Animal farm.
I was amazed how much DD enjoyed it and how much she learned. I hadn't realised how much recent history she doesn't know being born after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

HGTG essential in this house as whole conversations can be had in quotes.

Never read any of the "classics" DD1 is wading through Pride and Predjudice and it's driving her nuts. "Why the fuck doesn't Dad will the estate to his daughter and let her marry who she likes!"

I think I'd last two pages.

PoppyWearer Fri 27-Sep-13 11:42:37


I'll try to think of some more. I read loads of this type of novel as a teen.

PoppyWearer Fri 27-Sep-13 11:45:26

Brideshead Revisited.

PoppyWearer Fri 27-Sep-13 11:47:12


Takver Fri 27-Sep-13 11:47:29

And Scoop, of course, for 'Up to a point, Lord Copper' (gets said in this household a lot)

PoppyWearer Fri 27-Sep-13 11:48:26

Alice in Wonderland

SilverApples Fri 27-Sep-13 12:00:17

The Bible and Shakespeare crop up in a surprising number of ways and places.

Takver Fri 27-Sep-13 12:06:37

Brave New World is another I guess

Enb76 Fri 27-Sep-13 12:10:07

Swallows and Amazons for "Better drowned than duffers"
Frankenstein (though actually, the concept is done so often that the book is possibly no longer required)
Shakespeare - oh, so many
Kurt Vonnegurt for "so it goes" (Slaughterhouse 5)
Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm and 1984 - we use so many of the references that many people have no idea they come from the books
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
Brave New World (Alphas and Epsilons)

Actually - I think you just have to read a lot, and enjoy reading, also watch TV. People end up using their own cultural references, think Monty Python and Blackadder

Takver Fri 27-Sep-13 12:11:25

Definitely MP/Blackadder, Id say they're absolutely in the same category as HGTG

PoppyWearer Fri 27-Sep-13 12:21:33

From Shakespeare, Hamlet in particular has a HUGE number of common phrases in it.

I didn't read it at school and didn't see Hamlet on stage until a few years ago, and was blushblush that my cultural education had been missing this huge piece all that time (I'm late-30s with a good degree).

lostintoys Sat 28-Sep-13 07:53:18

Myths - Greek, Roman, Norse; the Old Testament stories; Dickens.

Mumzy Sat 28-Sep-13 07:58:09

The secret diary of Adrian Mole aged 13and 3/4: 'knowing somewhere like the back of your hand with gloves on' , 'i think I might be an intellectual'

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sat 28-Sep-13 08:43:36

Mister Pip and Purple Hibiscus just because the are incredibly insightful into other cultures.

HmmAnOxfordComma Sat 28-Sep-13 14:07:45

Lots of good ideas. Myths, the Bible, Shakespeare probably the most crucial.

Followed by all the sci-fi ones mentioned (1984, BNW etc), and the more quirky ones such as Hitchhiker.

Definitely Alice.

I think Oscar Wilde is pretty crucial, too. All the morals in the short stories; the quotations; Dorian Gray references; plus my favourite: 'A handbaaaaaag?'

Lots of other things are going to be personal to families and their different interests, especially comedy.

Takver Sat 28-Sep-13 20:16:36

Agree obviously the Bible, Shakespeare etc, but I suppose I was thinking more of modern cultural references ('modern' including Oscar Wilde)

An interesting sideline to that, though - dd is in Welsh medium education, and I do find it a little odd that she knows things like the Lord's Prayer in Welsh, not English (and laughed at the - admittedly Welsh - children on telly who couldn't sing Calon Lan, but doesn't know eg Onwards Christian Soldiers or We Plough the Fields and Scatter)

ThisIsBULLSHIT Sat 28-Sep-13 23:52:07

I haven't been able to get into Catcher in the Rye, Swallows and Amazons or Catch 22 ever!!

Moving forwards to now- ish I would say Hunger Games, Holes, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson are all must reads, if not full of cultural references, then worth it just for the enjoyment?!

ThisIsBULLSHIT Sat 28-Sep-13 23:53:35

Apologies if I have missed the point but let's not try and force feed our DCs dated books that they cannot access and have no meaning for them. The bible?!

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