Do you celebrate Dickens's birthday?My school has an entire day dedicated to celebrating Shakespeare.  The older students put on one of Shakespeare's plays, and the younger ones do...

Do you celebrate Dickens's birthday?

My school has an entire day dedicated to celebrating Shakespeare.  The older students put on one of Shakespeare's plays, and the younger ones do Shakespeare-related activities leading up to it.  We do no such thing for Dickens.  Does your school?

10 Answers

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Charles Dickens certainly doesn't get the same level of respect as the Bard, but, for that matter, no one does.

In the USA, you might expect to have Walt Whitman honored on his birthday, but even he - the most universally celebrated American writer - does not compare when it comes to respect, reference, and accolades. Shakespeare takes the day.

But if we are really talking about whether or not Dickens should be given a greater stature in literary circles and wondering why he has possibly fallen out of favor in high schools, it seems to me that the answer is all in the style of his writing. As much as his themes may translate, the prose does not.

That is, of course, only an opinion, offered for sake of discussion.


kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I think we should do something within English lessons to celebrate Dickens, but we don't. I teach extracts of Dickens - following his idea when he read from his own books to promote interest. We have forgotten that much of Dickens work was serialised - the forerunner of our soap operas - and wasn't meant to be read as a weighty tome. Dickens would have loved the Christmas Carol i-pad app of his story, and I think we can continue to be innovative in the way we revisit his fantastic characters.

lffinj's profile pic

lffinj | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

I have to say our school is similar to the #2 posting.  It does sound like a great idea to spend a day on a playwright, but I'm not sure how much our students would be interested in it.  Luckily, my school offers a wide variety of activities for students to be involved in and I think the students who might be interested in a day like this would already be involved in something else.  It would be interesting to know how many of my students know who Charles Dickens is...

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I didn't do anything especially celebratory, but I did post a quotation from Great Expectations on Facebook. I'm very sorry to hear, from the posts above, that Dickens isn't much taught in high schools these days. I'm a bit surprised, given the fact that there are so many good films based on his works.  I'd be interested to know which British 19th-century novels are taught, if any.  I'm guessing Frankenstein.

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I have never taught at a school that celebrated Dickens' birthday, nor do I personally know of any teachers who honor Dickens' birth. Since I share my own birthday with Shakespeare, I usually celebrated April 23rd with some form of literature from the Bard. I believe Dickens' own stature is growing, however, much in the same way Shakespeare's grew two centuries after his death.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

On NBC nightly news, Dickens's 200th birthday was mentioned, and then the public was told who he was....tragic!

This man is one of the greatest English writers who ever lived. His characters have been immortalized, his social criticism is yet relevant.

Ray Bradbury said, "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture; just get people not to read them."

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

No.  I do not believe that any of the English teachers at my school actually teach any of Dickens' works.  Therefore, most of the students at the school would be largely unaware of him.  A day dedicated to him would not make much sense.  But then, we don't do anything like what your school does about Shakespeare either.

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Sadly, I have to agree that Dickens has fallen by the wayside. What it seems to have come down to is the belief that his work is simply too advanced for high school readers. As sad as it is, I have to agree. I did not gain my own appreciation for him until in college (well into my English Degree program).

readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

My school does not do anything either. However, this is a great idea. This would promote great literature of the past and encourage reading. Too often we celebrate lesser events like pop stars and athletes in our society. So, I'll keep the idea of celebrate great literary writers in mind.

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I never taught anywhere that still taught Dickens, so no, I've never seen his birthday celebrated. My wife, who is an English teacher, did something on Mark Twain's birthday, though. It seems to me that Dickens is taught less and less in this country, but I'm not sure why.