professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Drawing some lines in the sand

A couple of recent posts have sent me into a tizzy. BH would tell you that it does not take much some days. Usually, that is when he pries the TV remote from my hands and takes away my watching politics privileges until I calm down.

But these posts both had to do with summer reading: required reading. One of the requests came from a teacher who was trying to help her high school freshman select two books from a list that was, quite frankly, daunting even to me. Thankfully, there were about a dozen titles and some of them were actually books written in my own lifetime: SPEAK and PAPER TOWNS were the ones I had read within the last decade.

Another post was a request to help a teacher who had been charged with finding ONE title for summer required reading for ALL students, AP to those who struggle with text. He was asking others to make some suggestions, and many did. Not me. When I am asked to recommend ONE title, I demur. I suggest at the very least a handful if not more.

This idea that there is just ONE book to offer an entire class or grade level that will meet the needs, preferences, and interests is just plain ludicrous. I know I am preaching to the coir yet again. I do that a lot. But I am thinking that the time has come to draw some lines in the sand, to say, "Nope, not going to do this or support that."

1. I will not recommend a single book to be used for required reading over the summer. If this book is SO important, then assign it once school begins and you can discuss the reading, please.

2. I will not recommend a book when the request does not come with sufficient information. Just telling me that you want a 6th grade historical fiction novel is not enough data (to use a term I loathe but when works here). I need to know about the reader. What has she read already? What is his favorite book to date? What is a title she hated? Is there a genre or form or format that will not work?

3. I will not include levels and other measures. I will use terms like MG and YA and MS, but not limit the books further.

4. I will make sure that I remind folks when I present that there are only so many books I can include in PD and that there are hundreds, nay thousands of books that might suit some of their readers.

5. I will not assign stars using Goodreads or any other platform. Who am I to make that decision for another reader? When I see one star given to Fahrenheit 451 or read a deprecating review on Amazon or even read some of the blurbs on the wonderful self-published authors who want me to download their books, I see the fallacy of this practice. However, I will continue to post what I read to Facebook, to compile lists. I am up to #515 or so this year so far. They are all worthy of other readers. Many of them floated on to new owners this week.

There are some other lines. I will revisit this later. For now, I am turning to another #bookaday. That is one place I do NOT draw lines.
Tags: required reading
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