Reading for Fun: Where the Common Core Standards Fail Our Children
While researching the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for an upcoming article, I ran across a website that answered some key questions about the standards and reading lists for teachers. There were some great tips about how to evaluate pieces of literature and how to integrate them into the required standards. However, at the end of the FAQ section there was one sentence that caught my eye and broke my heart:
As a teacher, a mother, and an avid reader (and writer!), the thought that my children and other students across the country are being funneled into a system that deprives them of the joy of reading simply for the sake of fun is depressing and troublesome. I can recall countless hours from my own childhood where my teachers would allow us to curl up on the comfortable sofas and chairs in the class library and just read. There were no tests, no pressure, and no hurry to move on to more structured reading and writing. We read, because it was fun. And that skill, because I firmly believe that reading for fun is a skill, led to a natural curiosity and an eagerness to learn more, discover more…read more.
The next sentence in the article that I discovered read: “However, educators know the importance of providing fun reading.” I believe that is true. I believe that teachers, especially those who engage with us in our online community on Facebook and Twitter, really understand the importance of showing students that books are not a means to an end, but a journey and an adventure. They know that in order for students to discover how much fun reading can be, they have to have time to do it and develop that skill. Think of it this way, if eliminating cursive writing from the curriculum means that students will no longer be able to write in cursive, then the same holds true for reading. If you eliminate time spent reading for the sheer purpose of enjoyment, you deprive students of that experience and skill. What are we doing to our future generations when we do this? More importantly, why are we doing this?
The Common Core Standards in all of their regimented glory and cross-country alignment address key issues that may, in the long run, make it easier for teachers and students to meet the demands of our changing society. However, I cannot help but worry that those who have developed these very standards have forgotten that those being held to them are children. Children who need to play, explore, be active, and, most importantly, have the time to enjoy the simple pleasure of reading for fun.
What do you think? Do you schedule in time for your students to read for fun despite the CCSS? Share with us below!