For me, it was Dickens' GREAT EXPECTATIONS. And it was 5th grade. Perhaps if I had encountered Mr. Dickens later, or been introduced via another of his books, maybe I would not shudder when I see the book or author's name mentioned. Mind you, I went on to become an English teacher, so I was not forever scarred. However, I still react with revulsion to an author that many would say is one ALL educated people should know.
The piece ends with this: "It’s like when you take a gulp of soup before it has cooled down, burn your tongue, and are unable to taste the rest of the bowl. I frazzled my palate... I was under-prepared both as a person and a reader." With all the emphasis on pushing kids to higher levels and lexile, I wonder how many burnt tongues which wil, in turn, result in a generation of adults who elect NOT TO READ ANYTHING. There are only so many instances of suffering burns before one eschews hot soup, right?