We can have 20/20 eyesight but still not have vision. Then, later the same day, Patrick Ness posted a link to this article: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ed76ee46-1185-11e7-a660-52c57ff18a53. Here is a story of an educator who wants to replace "popular" books with books that are more worthy of the attention of readers declaring it “so simplistic, brutal or banal” that it is barely worth reading. This is nothing new, but it is IMHO a good example of someone with sight and not vision. Forget that this educator wants his students to read THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT TIME which pubbed as an adult book and developmental is not quite a book I might require for middle school. Eliminating Percy Jackson books? I guess mythology is something kids don't need to read. Buh-bye SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT. Why do kids need to know archetypes and motifs?
This idea that just because it is popular or kids want to read it, it must be worthless is simply WRONG. Right now THE HATE YOU GIVE, EVERYTHING EVERYTHING, THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, and THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON are on the New York Times Bestseller List. I would stack these up against some of the titles on the adult list which includes a Danielle Steele (and I will confess that I read her work endlessly in my 20s). The wealth of books available for tweens and teens is incredible. The writing is exquisite. In short, it is literature. And kids are reading it of their own free will. Compare that to force feeding kids those books that are "good for them" but tend to make kids turn away from reading.
We allow adults freedom of choice in reading, but somehow there is a suspicion that kids will never get to the "good" books unless we are there to guide them. NOT TRUE. Sure, we should be there providing book talks and read aloud to help kids select books. But we do have to keep in mind: there is no ONE book for every reader. That is why we need to read widely as well. Earlier in the week, Colby Sharp and Donalyn Miller hosted their monthly #titletalk chat on Twitter. The topic was summer reading (you can access archives of last chats here: https://titletalkchat.wordpress.com). The talk was fast and furious, especially the final round when participants chime in with favorite books and what they are reading right now. These folks have vision. The educator from the article included above should work a bit on vision versus sight. What is it about the books kids are reading that makes them popular? What value do they possess? How might they be used to help kids construct reading ladders? Where might readers go from here?