Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Pleasure Reading

If I had no other reason for homeschooling my child, I might do it solely to avoid the regime of required summer reading that seems to reign in American schools.  I know that teachers and parents want kids to read over the summer, but surely requiring reading runs the risk of ruining the experience?  And not only do adults require students to read, but they judge the kinds of books they read, as in this op-ed from Sunday's New York Times by educator Claire Needell Hollander, according to whether they advance readers' "verbal and world knowledge."  "What summer reading needs to be is purposeful," she writes.  I agree, but I think its purpose should be pure pleasure!

I do like Hollander's suggestion that adolescents be encouraged to read nonfiction.  I cherished an irrational and baseless prejudice against nonfiction reading as a school-aged student; I had no idea how interesting nonfiction could be.  So it seems like a great idea to introduce students to such books not only because they "provoke students to desire an expanded world knowledge, to consider the flawed moral decision making of the past and the imperiled morality of the future" but because nonfiction can be a great source of pleasure reading.

I feel so strongly that summer pleasure reading should be inviolate because school students often have so little choice in what they read during the rest of the year.  In homeschooling we get to break down this opposition between required and pleasure reading, assigned and freely chosen books, school and vacation. 

1 comment:

Angel Read said...

I agree... I think its way better to set kids free in a library or bookstore to choose their own reading material, than to tell them what they must read. To get kids to read nonfiction, I usually try to reply to their random questions such as, "Why do dogs stick their tongue out?" by saying, "Lets see if we can find a book about it at the library when we go!"