Last night I gave my ten year old a copy of The Lord of the Flies. I have been trying to give her books that would challenge her reading ability. Most books, not unlike most newspapers, are written on about a 6th grade reading level. This is especially true for YA novels as that is their target audience. Most books that can be classified as Literature are written at a much higher level. There doesn't seem to be much to bridge that chasm. Lord of the Flies, in my opinion, can do that.
Lord of the Flies can be read on two levels. On one level, the level my daughter will immediately understand is that of a survival story and bullies. On a much higher and complex level, the story is about human nature in lines with the like of Heart of Darkness. The great thing is that Golding writes flies in such a way as the connection can easily be made and, hopefully, once pointed out to a 4th grader, she will be able run with it.
I read this book as an adult, so I lost some of that memory of how mean kids can be to each other and just how quickly societal norms can fade. Golding captures this perfectly. It are the kids the devolve completely that are most equiped for survival. Piggy is the least equipped as he holds tight to societal norms. Ralph splits the difference, but all the other characters are drawn to devolving out of fear. Published in 1954, as the cold war and nuclear annialation are justifiably large fears, the story is a perfect allegory for nuclear armement. No one wants to follow Jack Merridew into the wild, but they have to out of fear.