Valerie Strauss writes about assigned reading and whether or not it's too difficult for its target audience. I'd never really thought about this before, but Strauss has completely won me over with her argument. Here's the gist:
- Toni Morrison's award-winning novel Beloved, about a former slave's decision to kill her child rather than see her enslaved, is on some middle schools' lists for kids to read unassisted. And elementary schools sometimes ask students to read books such as The Bridge to Terabithia, with themes about death and gender roles that librarians say are better suited for older children.
If I've learned anything since beginning this blog and The Edge of the Forest, then it's that there are so many wonderful, brilliant children's books that tackle similar subjects, but in a more approachable way. Why not offer alternatives? For each class, provide, say, five books on similar themes?
Reading and writing should be, in my opinion, about sharing different worlds, about putting things in perspective, about language and life. If that can be accomplished with children's books, then why not allow the children to enjoy titles best suited to them?
ETA: Monica responds to the article and its simplistic approach over at educating alice. She justifiably takes the article to task!