Summer time. Schools are closed. You are a 5th grade ELA teacher. Local public library gives you a specific shelf and asks you to put some books where both children and parents can check out books. What kind of book are you going to select?
1.Classic and contemporary texts for children recognized for quality and literary merit.
2.Grade appropriate books which are closely aligned with school curriculum
3. Books which are fun and pleasing to read
I would definitely make sure there is a mixture of reading levels and interest levels. I would make sure these are both clearly marked. I would include different genres as well, and mark those. I would include my favorite books when I was that age, and my favorite books to teach.
I so agree with posting #2. When school is out, kids want to put their brains on hold. If allowing them to choose books that appeal to them on a personal level finds them cracking a book at the beach or pool or on a rainy afternoon, so be it.
I find as an adult that there are times when I don't want to read what I have to or should read, but something that is "pure pleasure."
This is not to say that some students won't find more "worthwhile" books on their own, but no matter what they are reading, they are learning: just don't tell them!
Please go with offering anything and everything! Consider books which 'look' appealing as well as your literary opinion and the text's relative critical merit/demerits. I have managed to sneak in many a classic for independent reading once it has been given a lively cover (To Kill a Mockingbird springs to mind). The 'book-of-the-film' can work well too. You are trying to make the idea of reading appealing: get reviews and advice from students/parents to give guidelines on what they would like.
No matter what they're reading, they are exposed to words, language, patterns, grammar, and words! The more you read, the smarter you are. Put some fun books on the shelf, but don't choose all books which are mindless beach reading. Put some stuff on the shelf which is challenging and also fun (mysteries, historical fiction, stuff that makes you think as well as turn pages to find out what happens next).
Definitely books that are fun and pleasing to read. The key to securing student engagement in reading is in helping them to select content that THEY will find enjoyable (which might not always coincide with what I, the teacher, find to be the most valuable for instruction).
I will have plenty of time during the school year to guide my students through more difficult selections, which is where many of the "classics" fall. In the summertime, students are largely "on their own" with reading, so I'd rather them have fun with it.
Oh my gosh you guys--can't the shelf be a mixture of both? Have we as educators never in our passed read a book that was supposed to be of high literary merit, and yet something in it was pleasing to us? We're doing readers a disservice if we assume a book isn't tied to the curriculum because it's "fun and pleasing", or if we assume they wouldn't want to read something considered a literary classic. The way to encourage readers is to provide a wide variety of quality fiction and nonfiction-serious, challenging, humorous, and yes some that overlap in all those areas. Provide a variety, and then let the reader choose what would be appealing.
I would have to go with fun and pleasing to read for the summer time. Although the first option might not be bad if it would encourage the parents to pick books to read also.
I'll make the case for pleasing and classic and appropriate! For most kids of this age, how a book looks is the first hurdle they must cross. If it's appealing, they'll move to the next level--does it sound like a story they'd like to read? I'd argue that many classic stories are. Certainly, because it's a library, each book in the collection should be age-appropriate.
I'd actually go with the second option. Books that are pleasing and fun to read can be picked up anywhere, so no bother devoting time and energy to creating a library shelf with "fun and pleasing" titles. Certainly books that are grade/age appropriate and close to the district's curriculum can be fun and pleasing too.
Absolutely agree with my other editors above. A book must be fun and pleasurable to read if you stand any chance of getting kids to read it over the summer when, let's face it, study should be the last thing on their mind. This has to be the absolute priority.
FUN AND PLEASING TO READ.
In 5th grade (well, all grades really), if a book is assigned outside of class--outside of teacher-led study--it should be pleasurable. I for one cannot stand summer reading (period) as an assignment, but I'm even more annoyed by summer reading requiring classics. I'm sorry, but classics are difficult no matter who you are. They are best when studied, not just read. Summer-reading to me should be a given. Kids who like to read will just do it anyway. Kids who don't like to read won't like any assignment. So I say, make it as fun (and easy) as possible. The most positive thing that a teacher should hope for out of summer reading, is that a student finds something he or she LIKES, and keeps reading because of it.
Since the last thing that most kids want to think about during the summer is the upcoming school year, I would choose the third option. It allows the child to choose a good read of their own choice and may even provide a positive cooperative reading experience for their parents.
I would definitely pick the last option. "Literary merit" is such a bogus term sometimes that blocks out really good books such as Ender's Game and Harry Potter which are full of meaning and worthy of analysis. I wouldn't worry too much about that at all. I would just pick books with a good story to tell.
Since it is summertime, I would select books that are fun and pleasing to read with the hope that during the summer the student will begin to love to read and read a lot. Then when he or she returns to school in the fall, he or she will be a better reader and more prepared to face the challenges of classic and contemporary texts, aligned to the standards, that he or she will surely face.
Books that are fun and pleasing to read of course. But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't have any classics on it. Books like The Three Musketeers and Treasure Island along with Huck Finn are just a few of the classics that kids love to read. There are others like Johnny Tremain and To Kill a Mockingbird.