The Kite Runner: where cultural education and literary thrills collide


Mia Hinds

A stack of “The Kite Runner”, assigned reading for Pre-AP English 10 sits in Mr. Callaghan’s classroom, waiting for eager students.

You don’t need to be an avid or voracious reader to be touched by literature.  Whether it’s an award-winning novel or a touching quote written on a scrap of paper, writing is everywhere.  Not every piece of writing might matter a ton,  but some pieces of literature are undeniably world-shifting.

One of these critically acclaimed literary creations is “The Kite Runner,” written by Khaled Hosseini. The novel is required reading for select English classes at Arroyo Grande High School, though it seems to differ from every other piece of required reading in terms of how invested the students are. 

Ashley Carder, a Pre-AP English teacher at Arroyo Grande High School, has witnessed this increased engagement consistently since she started teaching with the book. Though there are multiple books given to students throughout the year including “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, and “1984” by George Orwell, students tend to enjoy “The Kite Runner” to a higher degree.  Rather than the students seeing the nightly reading as an unbearable chore, they actually enjoy it. 

“I have a lot more kids who want to read ahead, they’re coming in willingly engaging with me about the book, instead of me having to guide the discussion,” said Carder.

They’re engaged in the story, and they don’t want the journey to end.  

“They’ll come in and say ‘Oh my god I can’t believe that happened in last night’s reading,’, or something like that,” said Carder.

Not only is the story engaging for students, but it allows them to learn about historical context and cultural awareness without the stagnant lull of a possibly dull history class.  

“Unfortunately I don’t think we have a super diverse curriculum here, so it does offer some diversity in both the author and the characters,” said Carder. 

Though Arroyo Grande High School admirably strives to emphasize the importance of diversity across campus, the curriculum for Pre-AP English 10 students is admittedly not as diverse, but “The Kite Runner” being a part of it certainly helps.

“I think especially when we’re looking at a location like South Asian countries, Americans often have a very narrow view of what life looks like there, and I think that this story, even though it has the historical context, it’s also got universal themes,” said Carder.

Though the book can be a challenging and sometimes violent read, it does enlighten students about some of the global issues faced by people who aren’t that dissimilar from them across the world.

“It connects people to a different culture both in the way of introducing them to those new ideas but also showing them that it’s not really that much different,” said Carder.  

Karis Brokaw, a Pre-AP English 10 student experienced both the cultural education and feelings that arose from the beginning of the book, all the way through to the last vivid line.

“There was a lot of contrast between Shia and Sunni Muslims, and it was just a story about two boys growing up in the beginning, but it got a little harsh, really early on…so that was hard to read,” said Brokaw.

Overall, “The Kite Runner” is understandably one of the more impactful and touching stories students can read.  And though not everyone can relate to the political and social issues faced by people in other parts of the world, books like “The Kite Runner” can help to enlighten and touch all readers, one powerful line at a time.