We share evidence-based K-12 learning strategies that empower you to improve education.
Sometimes I wonder at the simplicity of people's thinking. The answer to the question of should students choose books to read is Of Course! But that doesn't preclude the teacher's selection of books to initiate young readers into the world of literature and the love of reading. In my experience, if a student is so motivated to read a particular genre or a particular author, it is best for them to have the opportunity to exhaust that exploration rather than interrupt it with a forced alternative. However, if a student is a reluctant reader it is imperative for the teacher to recommend books and reading material that will engage and support a respect and appreciation for printed text. Later on, when reading is a personal value, it is really important for educators to widen the horizons of our students with the classical texts, powerful and important books that have shaped civilizations, influenced history and enriched lives. Mentoring students with books that inspired my own career is one of my favorite roles as I work with candidates earning a teaching credential. In every way, the answer to the reading question is a complex. I am reminded of Norton Juster's Phantom Tollbooth, where the Dodecahedron says to Milo, "As long as the answer is accurate, who cares if the question makes sense?" It is time to start using our professional knowledge to support well educated and thoughtful human beings who have access to the entire body of world literature at the touch of a button on their computers?
I think that both are needed! How else will you develop a love for reading in students. Teachers can also choose the classics as well as the terrific new young adult authors for their students to read, helping them decide what types of literature that they really will enjoy reading.
So it's official, we overwhelmingly believe that students should choose. The teacher's can give them choices of say 100 books and they will all tell each other what they read and it will spread by word of month. Our students are intelligent they just need to be given a little respect in that we know they are intelligent and they will make informed decisions based on what their sphere of peers are doing. Let them pick from book reviews on Amazon? Based on the selection from the teachers. There are millions of interesting books students can learn from.
I like this idea of book carts and libraries with suitable reading. Also, if a student had another idea, hu could petition the teacher for an alternative. This is a good life skill!
I think schools or the community should supply tools whereby they present viable alternativas. For example: book trailers (similar to movies) where kids can choose, with basic, previous knowledge of the book's subject matter. Here in Chile we have an experimental web page open to the Ministry of Education that I developed with my college studens, where we uploaded 30 book trailers, designed in motion graphics. It has been quite a good help in this matter, since kids navigate autonomously choosing their books as they see fun trailers. Most of them don't show the principal characters in the book, in order not to distort imagination possibilities during reading. Check it out:
Classics are covered, as well as local children's lit. Try it!
Absolutely! The goal is to learn to read AND to love to read. What bette way to enhance the intrinsic motivation so important to accomplishing these goals that by involving the students in the choices made.
Never absolute control but certainly an involvement.
I think children should be encouraged to do "independent reading" of their own choosing. However, I think it is important for teachers to choose the "great books," as it were, to have students read. It is our job to expose students to works they wouldn't choose on their own. I've been in a book club that serves the same purpose. Whereas at Barnes and Noble I'm likely to pick up Dean Koontz, my club "forced" me to read The Kite Runner. So it's good for all of us to have situations where we are "forced" to read things we wouldn't necessarily choose on our own, to expand our horizons. And if teachers don't expose children to the great thoughts/minds of the classics, who will?
There's room for both. As most of the comments above, students need to have some say in the books they read. But this sounds like a moot discussion in this day of education cutbacks. We barely have enough books to go around. And school libraries may be closing, as well as losing the ability to replace old and worn out books. We may NEED to teach the classics because kids can buy them cheaply from Dover Press or read them online, or even download them for free from some audio sites.
Students need a combination of both. Students can chose from high quality books and teachers can select some to read and discuss as a whole class.
I feel children need a balance of both. We read certain books in class which I choose, and they choose books within an assigned genre or level for outside/project reading. I use the books I choose to teach a specific skill or theme. Then I trust the students to choose a book which matches their interests to reinforce the lesson taught. How else will they learn to make good choices if they aren't allowed to practice doing so?