Yesterday as I eagerly browsed through the new Scholastic catalogue, my eyes caught this
And my heart sank
And then I got angry
And then I knew I had to blog about it
Whatever happened to the notion that reading expands your mind? That reading helps you see the world through a new set of eyes? That reading, whether fiction or nonfiction, makes you a well-rounded human being? It seems to have disappeared, swallowed by Common Core, test prep, and scores that determine the fate of every child. Now reading is to cram as much as knowledge into your head only so you can regurgitate it onto a test. Shove it all in there by memorization, who cares about deeper connections or questions to ponder? Just read, read, read, read and please make it nonfiction so that it is all facts, more knowledge, more things to know so that we can test you on it. After all, facts is what makes a great problem solver, right?
I hate the bastardization of reading that is happening here. I hate how reading becomes quantified through logs, broken down into data pieces, smothered through a heavy-handed focus on nonfiction rather than just reading. Reading for the love of it. Reading for the sake of it. Reading for the joy of it.
I hope Scholastic comes out with a catalogue that says, “Parents: Reading leads to new adventures!” or “Parents: Reading can be an escape for your child!” Or “Parents: Reading will deepen your child’s creativity!” Somehow I am not sure that will happen anytime soon, but we must hope, and we must fight. Our love of reading depends on it.
PS: As it was mentioned in the comments, look at what they highlight as great nonfiction reading: An encyclopedia, a math dictionary, a spelling handbook, and a world atlas. Couldn’t they at least have highlighted some great nonfiction books like “Bomb” or “Lincoln’s Killers” which I know they sell?