If we read these articles at the beginning of the semester, I think they would have really stood out to me! Students should get to pick what they read! Wow! Now, it seems ridiculous that teachers do it any other way!
In “Aim Higher: A Case for Choice Reading and a Whole Lot More in AP English,” Amy Rasmussen explains why students in AP English should get to choose what they read. She points out that a lot of teachers are afraid that students won’t read the books they choose if they aren’t forced to. If it’s about the book specifically, I’m not sure I understand the idea that certain classics have to be read by every single person let alone every teenager. If teachers argue that students won’t challenge themselves unless they’re forced to, they don’t have enough faith in their students. When I was a junior in high school, we read The Scarlet Letter, and I spent several minutes on each page, making sure that I understood the text. It was the first time I had been challenged that much by any book, and I loved it! I checked out a whole stack of classics for winter break, starting with The Great Gatsby. People love a good challenge, and I think students would surprise many teacher if they were granted any choice in their learning.
I’m not saying that I’m going to make my students read The Scarlet Letter, but I do believe all teachers should appropriately challenge their students. There were students in my class who tried reading the novel but couldn’t get through it and quit, and there were others who didn’t struggle with it as much as I did. It was the perfect book for me at the time, and whole-class texts reduce the chance of each student being challenged appropriately.