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.