Each year, I guide students through a selection of approximately 16 titles. These books are considered classics and the majority are on a list of "must reads" for high school students. Although I have found that the must read lists vary greatly. Students do not really understand how a classic to one person, may not even make the list of someone else.
It is a matter of opinion.
But the best critical readers base that opinion on certain factors. Not arbitrary or contrived factors, but measurable, or at least provable, characteristics. Good stories will include elements of character, setting, plot, dialogue, and theme worthy of notice. Great stories will stretch and twine those elements into a pattern worthy of discussion.
Good stories are meant to be read.
Great stories are meant to be pondered.
Good stories are read.
Great stories are read, reread and shared.
But how do you find a great story? Do they still exist?