In a lot of ways, it's exciting to learn about these new standards. They're focused, extremely rigorous, and help to standardize what's happening in classrooms across the US. But that's not what we're here to talk about today...
As I was flipping through my paper copy, I stumbled across "English Language Arts Standards: Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, and Range of Student Reading [for grades] 6-12." It was a chart of stories, plays, poetry, and informational texts that are recommended complements for the CC standards. And do you know when the vast majority of that recommended reading was published?
- 42% of the books were published before 1900
- 2% of the books were published after 2000 (2% = 1 book)
Now I don't doubt that this is a great collection of literature. And people should still be reading Shakespeare and Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson. But COME ON! Where is the appreciation for YA Lit??? How many students ever fell in love with literature because they read The Gettysburg Address or The Gift of the Magi (both on the list)? I'm guessing not that many. But how many students ever fell in love with literature because of The Hunger Games? or Lord of the Rings? or Harry Potter? I'm guess MILLIONS of young people! So when are titles like these going to earn their rightful place on academic lists? I don't think that time can come soon enough.
Now in the interest of full disclosure... there is a note at the bottom of the chart pointing out that the selected texts are only meant be "illustrative" of a "range of topics and genres," and that of course teachers can select their own texts. Sooooo... right. It's not like the chart means that no one should be teaching about Katniss or Junior or Delphine. I would just really like to see their names on the list.