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03 September 2016 @ 02:04 pm
Choices  
I had some plans for today. They did not involve a long dive into Houston to sit with my sister in the hospital as she recovers from surgery. After all, as of this time yesterday, she was home. But an infection set in and she landed back in the hospital late last night. Best laid plans and all that.

Granted, I had a choice to make. I could have stayed home and worked in my jammies. But I can work from here just as well (except for the jammies part). So, I selected the drive and spending time with my sister. I have written a book review, finished another book, and am even trying to get a blog post up despite the server here blocking LiveJournal for some reason.

And choice is important in other matters as well. This piece: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/01/10/if-we-stop-telling-kids-what-to-read-they-might-start-reading-again/ reviews the debate still being waged about giving kids choice in reading. On the one hand, you have Sandra Stotsky asserting that she will not allow her grandchildren to select their own books even as gifts. But then you have a more reasoned voice from Pam Allyn about the effect choice has on students.

I am growing more than a little weary of well-meaning folks decrying the lack of rigor or demands n the reader of YA (and I suspect they have not read much of YA either). This constant pushing for harder and harder materials to read makes me cringe. Look at the Lexile Bands.



It is no longer sufficient to have lexiles within a grade band, now we must also have “stretch” lexiles. And, of course, who does not want to stretch kids and reading and learning (well, me, for one). So, we continue to push and further limit what kids might elect to read based on some sort of numeric sleight of hand (ditto using reading levels and other “measures”).

As Bob Probst often says, harder does not always mean better. Sometimes it just means harder and even, perhaps, nigh onto impossible. Read Donalyn Miller’s take on Lexiles in this post, Guess my Lexile, http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/book_whisperer/2012/07/guess_my_lexile.html. Also read Kylene Beers’ post, Lexile Move Over, http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/book_whisperer/2012/07/guess_my_lexile.html.

Lexiles and levels and assigned reading and required reading all serve to narrow the choices we offer readers. The fact that kids are learning to dislike reading sooner and sooner is, I believe, testament to this craze of assigning numbers and levels and other measurements on what is, in essence, an artistic creation. Authors do not sit and ponder syllables and such hoping to score within a band or level. They select just the right words, syllables, sentences syntax, and the like. And yet, authors and publishers and others feel the constraints of measurement due to CCSS and other mandates.

When creative acts fall prey to number crunchers, what happens to literature? And readers? And our future?
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