A couple of days ago, The Hartford Courant carried a mini-article (originally from The Washington Post) called Let The Kids Decide. The piece's author cited Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee and stated that children should be allowed to read whatever they want in the summer.
The juiciest tidbit: "Adults rarely pick books kids want to read. (In a study of books that librarians selected for awards and books that chilren selected as best books over a 30-year period, the overlap was only 4 percent.)"
Let the kids read what they want without any direction or suggestion? Two primary problems with this approach:
There are lots of things that are NOT really appropriate for the kids, unless some responsible adult is going to be discussing the text with them. Do you really want an adolescent to read Mein Kampf without some guidance, context, and suggestion of alternatives?
The second problem is that allowing kids to just read what they want is that they are likely to never come across those things that will really help them grow and learn. So everybody else is reading all the Twilight books and keeping up with Hannah Montana in the gossip mags; a diet of these things is like letting the kids just eat corn chips and ice cream sundaes all summer--maybe not horrible in small doses but appropriate only if there is more nourishing fare making up the bulk of their reading "diet."
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