Students enrolled in the Hamline MFAC (MFA in writing for children and young adults) program have a required reading list of 120 books to deal with in their first two semesters. This last residency we had a fun conversation about the list. It was great to hear complaints about a book trigger immediate cries of “But I loved it!”

Like or dislike isn’t the point of the reading list. These books have been required because it’s useful to be familiar with them, for one reason or another.

We spent part of the discussion compiling a list of titles that each MFAC students had found useful to his or her own development as a writer. Not many titles were on both the official list and the student list. The student list had many more recent titles, and it was heavily weighted toward novels.

I’ve already started reading from the student list and have just put Craig Thompson’s Blankets on the top of my stack. Can’t believe I missed this one. That’s the best thing about teaching–there’s no better way to learn.

The required list is available on the MFAC site; if anyone would like a copy of the student list, email me.