Sunday, August 19, 2007

On Reading Lists, Literature, and Writing

A member of the National Council of Teachers of English, I subscribe to NCTE Inbox. I have to admit I often ignore the weekly updates because I’ve retired from teaching. Yesterday, I decided to check out the most recent NCTE Inbox edition in which I read an interesting article from The Christian Science Monitor about high school reading lists. At the NCTE website, I also came upon some position statements and a list of notable children’s books. Here are the links:

From The Christian Science Monitor (August 8, 2007)

High School Reading Lists Get a Modern Makeover: Find out what recent bestsellers are taking their place next to classics at schools across the US.
EXCERPT: Precious summer minutes spent poring over Shakespeare or Nathaniel Hawthorne may seem less than appealing to teens, but some experts say there is a slowly growing trend to infuse more modern literature into summer reading. As a result, the revered literary canon, which includes such classics as "Hamlet," "The Grapes of Wrath," and "The Scarlet Letter," may be due for a shake-up. Glance at high school summer reading lists across the United States and you are likely to find more recent authors such as Alice Sebold, Walter Dean Myers, and even Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong alongside Dickens and the Brontë sisters.

From the National Council of Teachers of English

NCTE Position Statement: Resolution on the Essential Roles and Value of Literature in the Curriculum
EXCERPT: The current era of high-stakes testing has resulted in a narrowed curriculum in many schools, leaving little time or resources for extended interaction with literature. The Reading First Initiative of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 encourages the use of specific commercial reading programs, many of which make minimal use of authentic books. "Teachers are finding . . . that some of the mandated scripted programs are crowding out of the curriculum the time needed for reading aloud, independent reading of enjoyable and informational texts, writing, discussion, and in-depth exploration of literature" (NCTE position statement "On the Reading First Initiative," 2002).

NCTE Guideline: NCTE Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing
EXCERPT: Just as the nature of and expectation for literacy has changed in the past century and a half, so has the nature of writing. Much of that change has been due to technological developments, from pen and paper, to typewriter, to word processor, to networked computer, to design software capable of composing words, images, and sounds. These developments not only expanded the types of texts that writers produce, they also expanded immediate access to a wider variety of readers. With full recognition that writing is an increasingly multifaceted activity, we offer several principles that should guide effective teaching practice

Children’s Literature Assembly: 2007 Notable Children’s Books in the English Language Arts

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