Today is author Jules Verne's 183rd birthday. In his honor, fans of his work have boosted him into the top trending topics on Twitter, and Google even morphed its logo into an animated underwater scene from his classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. But, in an era of pre-packaged reading programs, curricula driven by high-stakes testing, and kids hooked on Twilight, do today's schools even teach Verne's books anymore?
If they're not, they should be. While the relevancy of some classics—like J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye— is being questioned, Verne's books seem more applicable than ever to the 21st century lives of students.
In our increasingly global society, Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days is the perfect backdrop for helping kids learn the National Geography Standards. Students that watched Lost will appreciate The Mysterious Island. And, given that the main characters in all of Verne's most famous novels are inventors, explorers, and adventurers, President Obama's call for Sputnik-style innovation around science, math, and technology syncs up perfectly with his work.
So, c'mon schools, don't just toss Jules Verne onto some random summer reading list. Add his novels back into what's read during the school day.