Kids Pick Their Own Books in Classroom Revolution

But will Harry Potter beat out the Bard?
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2009 4:11 PM CDT
394238 02: Shoppers read about a Chicago program involving the 40th anniversary edition of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel 'To Kill A Mockingbird' September 10, 2001 at a Borders Books and Music...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) To Kill a Mockingbird or Captain Underpants? The choice, for most middle school students, is a no-brainer—and an increasingly prevalent one now that schools from New York to Seattle hope to revolutionize English classes by letting students choose their own books, the New York Times reports. The approach, known as reading workshop, does have its critics. “What child is going to pick up Moby-Dick?” one professor says. “Kids will pick up things that are trendy and popular.”

Others add that assigned books better prepare students for standardized tests and contribute to a shared literary culture. Another professor counters, “If your goal is simply to get them to read more, choice is the way to go.” The biggest benefit, others say, is allowing students to discover a lifelong love of reading. One student who chose Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye wrote in text-message jargon, “I would have N3V3R thought of or about something like that on my own.”