The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Required Reading Lists : Monkey See As school starts up again, several commentators are taking a critical look at required reading lists. Necessary evil, necessary joy, or totally unnecessary? It depends on whom you ask.
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The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Required Reading Lists

Everyone wants kids to read, but how do you make that happen? And is all reading the same? iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Do required reading lists foster a hatred of reading?

That's the argument put forth by Meg Cabot, who writes a lot of popular fiction, some of which (The Princess Diaries, for instance) is aimed at younger audiences. Cabot's central question: "Why are people always making kids hate to read by forcing them to read things they don't want to read, or aren't ready to read yet?"

Cabot was responding to this article in The New York Times about how some schools are shifting away from a model where the teacher assigns a series of serious books, and toward a model where students choose what they want to read. After Cabot's comment came this terrific little essay at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

We talked about this at length about a year ago, but these pieces are all very valuable additions to the discussion, I think. And it's hard for me not to feel appalled, I admit, by the scoring system discussed by this parent, also writing recently in the New York Times.

I think reading Harry Potter books is a perfectly wonderful way for kids to enjoy reading, but if you're going to assign "points" to books at all, assigning those books such preposterously high values — not to mention how Hamlet wound up earning fewer points than a Gossip Girl book — is pretty hard to understand.