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Good Books for K-6


Q. I've just volunteered for our grade school's book selection committee. I will be the only parent with a large group of teachers, a counselor, a media specialist and a curriculum specialist from our district. The reason I'm on there is that I've complained in the past about the quality of the books in the assigned reading. But I'm just a parent and they're professionals. How can I influence this group away from contemporary, "hot-button" books and back to the great books?


You are exactly in the right place at the right time. You may be just the breath of fresh air that the professionals need to change their ways. Educators are finally beginning to connect weak reading experiences in grade schools with weak literary analysis, shaky reading comprehension and lack of critical thinking skills in high schools and colleges. Kids need a much better base.


Be advised that the easy way out for educators is to buy "packages" from publishing companies. They get the books, lesson plans, quizzes, project ideas, and other aids, all wrapped up into one. Their marketing makes that seem a lot easier than teachers assigning a literary classic to the children and having to develop or scrounge all the rest of the teaching tools themselves. But then again: what's best for kids? The great books, of course. They don't NEED marketing.


Make it your goal to get at least 80 percent of the assigned reading at your school from these excellent lists: see the summer reading list see "A Child's Reading List"


The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease


Classics in the Classroom by Michael Thompson


Homework: Share this quote with the people involved in the book selection process at your school: "Nothing ought to be more weighed than the nature of books recommended by a public authority. So recommended they soon form the character of the age." - Edmund Burke, British political philosopher, 1791


By Susan Darst Williams Reading 13 2008


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