The debate is on. School districts in New York and Georgia are thinking of allowing students to choose the books they read in class. On one hand I agree with the argument that kids would never read anything but "Harry Potter" if allowed to, so I can see where those who are against the plan are coming from.
On the other hand, as a person who loves to read, I tend to shy away from the books I have no interest in, so I can see the benefit of having kids pick their own reading materials. Unfortunately, when I was a kid, the books I tried to avoid were the "Great Classics," yet I believe those were the very books that developed my reading comprehension skills, which prepared me for college.
I do think that whatever the material, reading has to be made fun for kids and that is no easy task when teachers are competing with the internet, dvd's, I-phones and a myriad of other technological gadgets that occupy their time. Sadly, we are raising a generation who will never understand the joy of cracking open a new book with that "fresh" smell, (although, I must admit I'm now guilty of reading on my Sony Reader) and who will never value the experience of getting lost in someone's beautifully written words. For me reading is the reason I like to write.
As a writer, it's a bit scary to put your heart and soul into a piece with the realization that many people don't read anymore.
I have many friends who are or who have been school teachers and I would love their input on whether kids should be allowed to choose their own books for class. For me, I think allowing some student choice, mixed with a few classics would work best. What do you think?