The full quote…

Just in case you’re here because you followed a link from SLJ about Walter Dean Myers, I thought you might like to read the full quote …. here it is:

The most problematic thing to me about this kind of article is that it sets the “urban experience” in opposition to “quality books.”  It also seems to suggest that books with high literary merit were all written centuries ago.  I wish more teachers would challenge their students with fantastic contemporary writing as an entry point.

But the very general issue I take with the story is that it misses the most important point– that kids need everything.  I don’t think kids should only read what they like, any more than I think they should only eat Doritos.  We shouldn’t dumb down literature for kids. We shouldn’t assume they can’t or won’t enjoy the literature we love.  An excited teacher or an author visit or a well selected sampling of poetry. (this is where I seem to have… ahem… forgotten the second half of a sentence) I believe that.  But when we try to introduce a kid to leafy greens we don’t take away their Doritos.  We say, “Hey, check this out.  This spinach dip is so good on Doritos!”  Kids absolutely need to see their own lives and landscapes reflected in the books they read.

2 Responses to “The full quote…”

  1. david e Says:

    okay, so somehow i missed the entire twitter thing and the controversy posted all over and… it’s amazing what you can miss and how quickly the news cycles these days.

    the problem for me, as i’m gleaning info all around, is this idea the notion that the subject matter of the books determines its quality. it is arrogant to decide what a kid “needs” in terms of the stories that fire their imaginations and move their spirits, and i know from personal experience that if i hadn’t been allowed to pick my own reading in 8th grade i might have turned out a much different (and perhaps less literate) person.

    but, agreed, it shouldn’t be an either/or but an also/and world when it comes to reading.

  2. Angie O (@senoritao) Says:

    Yes. Had this come up just yesterday when a volunteer mentor came in to look for library books to read with the kiddos he is tutoring. And several of the choices I first showed him … “No, I don’t like those cartoony characters.” Look, bud, it’s not always about what you like. Kids need literacy examples that will both pique THEIR interests as well as perhaps EXPAND their horizons. When he only accepted like one of the first eight things I showed him I got mad and had my assistant deal with him (which was not the best, I know :/). She’s more patient as well as a little more old school.

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