Language arts texts in schools traditionally harkened back to the days of “Dick and Jane” readers. Such material was greatly simplified, repetitious, and—many educators felt—dull and boring. Modern reading texts are meant to inspire and encourage reading by providing beginning readers with creative literature chosen from classic and modern children’s writers. Impressions series, for example, has used works by C. S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rudyard Kipling, A. A. Milne, Dr. Seuss, Jan Slepian, Katherine Paterson, and other classic and award-winning authors and illustrators. The series, which was created in Canada, has taught reading and writing through exposure to poetry, myth, folklore, song, fiction, and nonfiction stories.
Impressions has been a popular series among both teachers and students. After years of close evaluation, the set was adopted by fifteen hundred schools in thirty-four states and most of Canada’s provinces. Teachers who have used the series have called Impressions a great advance over the many instructional texts that had been systematically “dumbed down” for many years, thereby causing children not to care about reading.
Despite the praise and popularity received by Impressions, protests against its use began to be made as early as 1987. These attacks spread and escalated without abatement. During the 1987-1988 school year, parents in several small communities in Washington and Oregon protested that the Impressions books contained traces of witchcraft, mysticism, and fantasy, as well as themes encouraging rebellion against parents and authority figures. Some American parents objected to the books’ occasional use...
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