professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Thinking outside the box

I read a blog post this week about using boxes to hold the materials students are reading in school. Ideally, said box has some short pieces such as comics, articles, and other pieces that would not require a lot of time to read. The idea is that a child could read the entire piece in a few minutes if he or she finished other work with some time to spare. Then, the box would hold pieces slightly longer, ones requiring a bit more time to read: magazines, picture books, easy reading books. Finally, the box should have a "just right" book for when students had more time to delve into an entire book for an extended period of time. At first blush, this seemed sort of interesting. However, I wonder how many of us parcel out our reading this way?

I will admit that I often take a stack of picture books onto my lap on a day where I have the leisure to read for more than a few minutes. But I also have a bathroom book which is, more often than not, a novel of some length. I know that I will more than likely only get a chapter or so a day, but I am fine with these small bursts. If I suddenly cannot stand to mete out the reading, I can take the book from the bathroom to the reading room and gulp it all down if I wish.

But here is the thing that bothers me: I always have more than 1 or 2 or 3 books going at the same time. I shift back and forth from picture books to chapter books to longer works of fiction and nonfiction. Right now I have a stack of F&Gs on my work desk for weekend reading. I have a stack of galleys to pack for my upcoming vacation (at least 1 book for every day and some back-up just in case). At the office, there are more stacks and shelves of books TBR. As a child, having a box with 1 book and a couple of other short pieces in it would not have held me for long. And I know many voracious readers who would rather take the 5 or 10 minutes to dive back into their current read or, better yet, take some time to shop the shelves for some new books to add to the box.

There is a lot of reference in this piece about "just right" books, too. That is not-too-subtle code for levels. If these are books for independent reading, I wonder at the restrictions "just right" holds for some readers. Just right in whose estimation? Is there wiggle room here? Is it not possible to read some easier books, maybe a few tougher books according to whatever system that is narrowing choice? Does interest play any role here? How do readers ever gain independence in this scenario?

I know, I know. I tend to rant about these things often. It is just that I want to see as few restrictions as absolutely necessary; I want to see kids free to choose; I want to see them get better at selecting books on their own. Will they stumble from time to time? I do, so I suspect they will as well. Is that OK? Yep.

As for the box, it is time to ditch it and move on to something outside the box that permits kids to do some picking and choosing on their own.
Tags: idiocy, levels, limiting
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