In an ideal world, every child, everywhere, would love to read. More importantly, they would know how.
However, that’s not the reality.
Reading is hard. Yes, there are those students that enjoy it. But that is the exception, not the rule. In school, if kids don’t understand or like what they are reading, there is very little anyone, including the teacher, can do to make a compelling argument for it.
The changes include reading more non-fiction, and cutting back on fiction literature. Parents were outraged.
Parents didn’t want the Common Core to kill their child’s love of reading. That seems harsh. I think the Standards will help foster reading skills, not diminish them.
The reading we do now in school is important—I liked Catcher in the Rye as much as the next person, but it doesn’t mean I learned better because of it. Some students don’t even like the novels we read in school. They don’t relate, connect to, or even understand what’s going on.
So what do they result to? Internet help, fast reading, spark notes. Anything that will help them “appear” to have read and understood the book. Honestly, who is that helping?
Besides, some of the best books I’ve read didn’t come from the classroom. I picked up books outside school because they were about I wanted them to be about, and they interested me. I didn’t want or need to spark note the ending. Now granted, I’m not the norm. Kids won’t voluntarily read if they don’t have to. But what if we could get them to?
What if nonfiction in the classroom—whether it’s articles, journals, research, or opinion pieces helped them not only learn how to read, but sparked their interests?
There are plenty of arguments to why cutting back on literature in schools is a good idea. But one of them is not so kids don’t read. They should read. But you can’t keep forcing them to read Romeo & Juliet if they don’t want to.
In fact, every reason to add more non-fiction to the school day points to showing students that reading isn’t an ancient act. The novels and books we read in schools are often outdated and hard to digest. Imagine letting students read about what’s happening in the world today—in the news, in the industry they’re interested, even about the sports, or activities that get them excited. There are good quality non-fiction pieces on every level, in every area. They won’t replace fiction—kids can read about Harry Potter, or the Hunger Games, or whatever they choose. But, wouldn’t it be nice if non-fiction helped them understand how to read, how to examine, how to analyze and understand?
That way, when they get to the fun reading, it will actually be just that, fun. Novels can be enjoyed, but only if you understand how to read them first.