I just read a fabulous article on Facebook that was shared by another TL about how much choice matters in recreational reading. Korbey in her Edutopia article “The reading wars; choice vs canon” presents various perspectives to this scholastic issue.
The problem lies in that if students are forced to read particular texts, then there can naturally be a resentment towards the task, the book and the activity of reading. But if a student only ever reads what they want to read then their minds will never be broadened by wider concepts and or cognition stretched. Korbey goes on to elaborate that leaving all texts to student choice poses challenges. The obvious challenge is that students are less able to ascertain which reading material is best suited to their abilities. They often return to old childhood favourites rather than allow their reading material to grow with them.
But what is the happy medium? In this article Korbey talks about teacher lead explicit instruction and the impact it is having on students. The answer seems elusive.
One idea is for teachers to select a general theme and or moral objective and then find books that address that theme in a variety of genres and text types. This way student choice is addressed as well as the need to expand and challenge their growing minds.
This is a definite change in direction but I do think that George Orwell can work with Suzanne Collins; Mark Zusack with John Boyne and Jackie French. But that also calls on English teachers to be brave and well supported by their colleagues.
Is your school brave?