New York Times Room for Debate Opinion Page is publishing different points of view on “What Books are ‘Just Right’ for the Young Reader?”
The Common Core asks teachers to consider quantitative, qualitative and reader/task issues when choosing texts for a particular topic. Among the qualitative justifications for a text are concerns about the appropriateness of a book for a child’s emotional maturity, complexity of the text structure, the reader’s life experiences, and cultural and literary demands. The various opinions expressed in the Room for Debate demonstrates the complexity of the task of choosing the right book.
While teachers are directed to increase the text complexity, as measured by one of six measurements, (an August, 2012 supplement updated the standards to include other measures besides Lexile), the quantitative measures are equally weighted with qualitative and reader/task considerations.
Sample Quotes from the Debates:
- “The developers of the Common Core also need to grapple with difficult questions, and to engage in a public debate about what middle grade students need to read.” Claire Needell Hollander is an English teacher at a public middle school in New York City.
- “I often hear the argument that kids will gloss over reading content that they aren’t yet ready to process. In my own reading life, I haven’t found that to be true. My reading skill led me into numerous stories that I was emotionally unprepared for, and sometimes that was a traumatic experience.” Paolo Bacigalupi is the author of “Ship Breaker.”
- “On the other hand, kids sense what they can handle and will set aside books for which they’re not yet ready.” Jennifer M. Brown, the children’s editor for Shelf Awareness, writes for School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews.