Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Do Kids Have To Like the Books They're Reading in School?

My best friend shared this post with me on Google Reader, and I wanted to see what all of you thought of it. The post and the article it was responding to were about how Catcher in the Rye is losing its popularity with today's teenage readers.  I was particularly struck by one comment the author of the post made that said that English classes are for teaching students how to think critically and be people.  Therefore, it doesn't matter if the kids like the books they are reading or not.  Here are the links:

The post was in response to an article in the NY Times, so read this first, then read this reaction, and then (if you still have time!) let me know what you think.  

I agree that school is about all of the things the author cites, and that students don't have to like all the books they read in school for the books to be worthwhile.  However, shouldn't English class also be about encouraging and developing life-long readers?  How will students ever learn to love reading if they don't read at least some books that they enjoy?  Some students don't have parents who will provide books and encourage reading, so it has to come from teachers. 

Some books I read in school are still some of my favorites, such as To Kill A Mockingbird, Catch-22, All the King's Men, and yes, The Catcher in the Rye.  

What are you thoughts?  Did you like any of the books you read in school?  Did that contribute to your current life as a reader?  


M.J. said...

Catcher in the Rye is one of my all-time favorite books. Between the ages of 12 and 17, I must have read that book at least 25 times!

WhimsAndInconsistencies said...

I loved the books I read in school! My favorite books list looks like a high school reading list. Gatsby, anything by Jane Austen, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre.

Perhaps great literature is like vegetables or brushing your teeth. It should be forced on you until you finally come to your senses that it is a good idea and you should do it without promises of ice cream.