When you read, talk about, and immerse yourself in children’s and young adult literature as much as I do, you’re bound to run into an array of thoughts on what makes “good” literature. Some people out there (librarians, teachers, bloggers, and parents alike) believe that young and impressionable readers should only read the “classics” and literary texts. I’m talking about pushers of everything from King Lear and Gone With the Wind, to Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that these books are bad or even that they shouldn’t be encouraged. For the most part, I agree with the role of these texts in the classroom. But when it comes to free reading, to the one time when kids can finally chose for themselves, I think that readers should simply be encouraged to read.
So what if Suzie wants to read a book about prep school girls, or if Thomas wants to read the latest skating graphic novel? Who cares if Heather enjoys the popular weekly magazine, or if Jordan inhales detective mysteries? If they’re excited about reading, why should it matter that the literary value (whatever that actually is!) is not up to some elitist standard?
Afterall, shouldn’t we encourage children to read what excites them? Shouldn’t we foster a love for reading? We should be pushing young readers to try new genres, to explore a variety of authors. To use their imaginations to build worlds in their minds. Not stunting their comfort in reading through literary texts that might not be relatable to them yet.
All that should matter is that these kids are in fact reading! Whether it’s a magazine, a nonfiction biography, a chick-lit series, or a graphic novel, all reading should be seen as productive reading!