What is this required reading nonsense?!

In high school, we read a lot of books that went along with the teacher’s curriculum for that week.  From what I gathered, the purpose of reading those books was to help us with writing our own stories and how to properly climax a story or create an ending that kept the reader guessing. That’s what my teachers did with the books we read.  A lot of the time we worked on creative thinking with those books.  But those books were just boring and we couldn’t think of anything creative or worth mentioning.  It is called creative thinking for a reason so why not read something that you know is going to spark our creative thinking caps and let us go wild!  As a teacher, you know what will spark that creativity and what will put kids to sleep (literally).  So why torture them?

Obviously I think it is important for students to read books but why not let them choose their own?  We’ve seen what happens when they are in charge of their reading life so let’s bring that into the school.  Yes, it is important to learn about writing papers and punctuation and all that other wonderful stuff.  But I think we’d all be surprised to see that when students pick up a book on their own, they will pursue that book and apply it to everything they do.  I’ve seen it before but in my own reading life.  I started a book I loved and eventually I started to see myself change as a person in reality.  Don’t ask me how but just believe that it can happen to anyone.

I don’t think there should be a thing such as “required” reading because I think it honestly scares some kids.  I know it does me.  I’m all about free reading and choosing your own fate when it comes to a book.  So I say throw the required nonsense out the window and leave your book fate to the reading gods.  Penny Kittle’s video proved that when kids pick up books that they know they would enjoy, they read a lot more than when they were required to read books they found boredom in.  There is freakin’ proof so why are we still pushing required readings onto students?!  I’m sure teachers get bored of reading the same shit every year!  Shake it up a little.

Speaking of her video, I loved it when the students said the books were terrible but yet none of them actually read the books.  How can a book be terrible if you haven’t even read it?  That made me laugh!  Although, I will put myself out on the line and admit that I have sparknoted a few books in my time.  Granted, most of the time I forgot to read the book all together so I had to round up some info. rather quickly.  From the video, I learned that the students are very smart and capable of achieving but they have to do it in a way that only they can understand.  We as teachers need to be there to support them, not push and force them.

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5 thoughts on “What is this required reading nonsense?!

  1. I enjoyed reading A Christmas Carol with my eighth grade class this year, but for one section, I purchased a book written at a lower reading level so that they could actually read it without being totally dumbfounded by the langauge.

  2. Some students already have an opinion about a book because upper class men told them about it or older siblings. These are why some students already hate a book they haven’t read.
    We do need to support our students because as many of the kids and Peggy Kittle said, students get turned off from reading when we force them to read and they have no choice.

  3. I agree so much with this. There are ways to teach the ideas we need to teach through books that our students will like. In middle school, I had a teacher that gave one class a middle grade book and my class a dusty old classic. I remember thinking “Why do I have to read this and they get to read that?” I wish all classes could have choices.

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