summer reading–let kids invent themselves

We interrupt our revision programming for this important blog entry.

I hate to give this article any more exposure, but I suppose you have to read the buttal before you read the rebuttal.

Claire Needell Hollander, a self-described “middle school reading enrichment teacher” has written an article for the New York Times saying that kids in middle school and high school should not be reading frivolous fiction during the summer.  Like The Hunger Games.

She urges children to be unfettered with the specter of essays and tests for their summer reading, that they be free to explore works which may be out of their comprehension comfort zone. On that point I agree whole-heartedly. When a grade is attached, students tend to play it safe.

But Ms. Hollander maintains “Reading literature should be intentional.” Her suggestions for summer reading include a first hand account of the aftermath of Hiroshima and books about kids who have been real child soldiers and a child sex worker. She feels these book choices  “increase world and verbal knowledge”.

Oh, baloney.

There is a reason we tell stories, and it is this: to make sense out of a senseless world.

Kids and teens especially must have the luxury to explore in a fictional setting the topics that frighten, anger and titillate them. They should be given the space to figure out how life works, how it should work.

Reading fiction with compelling characters gives kids and teens the chance to feel those characters’ dilemmas, to make moral choices along with them. They’re building their understanding of the world and their place in it, one book at a time.

About Lisha Cauthen

Lisha Cauthen writes YA novels for guys that girls like to read too.

Posted on June 25, 2012, in childrens' literature, YA literature and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Any kind of reading has value and we aren’t going to be able to convince many kids to read War & Peace during school breaks.

  2. you can’t convince ME to read war and peace on my summer break either. why are we making kids hate reading? we don’t eat spinach for dessert.

    OH IF YOU EAT SPINACH FOR DESSERT I REALLY WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.

  3. Ack. *climbs off soapbox*

  4. Amen. Good post. :)

  5. Thank you, Judy, but I didn’t know we were praying. *gets on knees*

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