It could also have something to do with the dry way in which reading is presented. Modern teachers don’t have the advantage of the cane or diplomatically suggesting a career in “trades”. This means they must be creative and interesting in order to engage their students. High school teachers think I’m bonkers when I suggest music, drama and art to help get their kids interested, but believe me it works. We teach children to READ visual literacy in primary school, so why wouldn’t they be able to do it in high school.
Why not compare 2 pre-Raphaelite pictures and discuss which is the best representation of a Shakespearean tragedy – maybe in groups students could choose which tragedy – watch a couple of versions of the movie, a couple of you-tube spoofs (Have you seen the Jane Austin Fight Club?) and use that as a basis for real literary discussion in the classroom. Too much?