Friday, July 24, 2009

The Essentials, In My Humble Opinion

I was confronted a while back by a parent whose child was reading above grade level. The problem is, they wanted their student to read only books on their “reading level”. This creates two problems.

First of all, while a middle school student may be able to read and comprehend books written for an adult audience, they are not ready to read the content in most books written for an adult audience. Then there is the “fun” element. Most adult books are written at a fifth to sixth grade reading level. Want something higher and you’ll be reading books like David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and the like. Not exactly what a 13 year old boy wants to read.

The second issue is that there are certain juvenile and young adult books that form a basis for cultural literacy. These are books that most young people have read and that teachers are likely to reference. And many of them are books that, in my opinion, are books that everyone should have read by the time they hit high school. In no particular order:

1. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
2. The Giver
3. Wrinkle In Time
4. The Great Gilly Hopkins
5. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
6. Little House in the Big Woods
7. Charlotte’s Web
8. The Outsiders
9. Bridge to Terabithia
10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone

Many of these are Newberry Prize winners or honor books. All have become part of our cultural literacy in terms of children’s books. Their characters span races, economic situations and ages. The settings are urban, rural, contemporary, historical and the future. They are realistic fiction, fantasy and adventure.

Have you read them?


Anny Cook said...

Interesting. Those that I've read, I read as an adult. The list from my time would have been completely different. So perhaps it really depends on what generation you're from.

Molly Daniels said...

I have only read three of these, and # 6 and 7 were read by 4th grade. #10 I read as an adult. I had the opportunity to read #3 in jr high, but for whatever reason didn't. I'll have to correct that; and never even heard of some of the others, save for Bridge and Outsiders.

JacquƩline Roth said...

I'm surprised that some of these seem new. Harry Potter and The Giver are the only two published after 2000.

Joey Pigza is an unusual choice I grant you, but I think everyone, especially students and teachers should read it. It puts you smack dab in the middle of the head of a little boy with severe ADHD.

I think you're right, Anny. Generation may make a difference. If you weren't a kid, or had a kid in the last ten years some of them may have been under the radar.

dayana said...

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