Department meetings and informal conversations about how best to teach students always circled back to the same topics: What should teens read? What will most develop their reading skills? A typical exchange of ideas could get a bit testy. This is a rerun of a typical conversation about reading lists:
Everyone must read Shakespeare or they’re culturally illiterate.
Wait a minute. What’s the purpose of reading? Is it to carve out identical thinking, minds that we’ve crafted into whatever it is we believe is in their best interests?
It’s not developing reading skills for kids to require them to read something that we must interpret for them just to get at meaning.
I believe we must stop, sit back and think logically about what it means to read and how to help students become critical thinkers.
But, we’re doing them a grave disservice if they haven’t read the classics!
Why worry? They should just read, regardless.
What about free choice? Can’t we open the door to more selections, especially the free reading time in the summer?
And so it went, on and on and on with no resolution.
With everyone and their uncle writing columns about summer reading, I thought I’d throw in my two cents on this idea of reading lists, and the concept of “right” reading choices, based on my experiences in a high school classroom (I retired a couple of years ago).