Thursday, July 3, 2014

Reading Unsupervised: The Anxiety of Summer Reading Lists and a Recommendation

In the wake of another summer reading censorship controversy (this one involving John Green's Paper Towns), I've been thinking about the anxiety-producing responsibility of recommending books to students. It reminds me a bit of the process of hiring a babysitter for my daughter. After all, we're sending our students off into the world to read unsupervised, without us around to guide and help them process what they've read. Side note: I'm totally in favor of students (and all people) choosing their own books and reading unsupervised as much as they want. But there must be a greater standard of care when a teacher, an authority figure, puts his or her official stamp on something and sends it off to be consumed by a child.

I guess it's about safety. I try to choose authors with whom I know students will be safe. And, in my opinion, safety doesn't have as much to do with content as it does with the sensitivity and intelligence of the author.

Having recently finished Natalie Lloyd's A Snicker of Magic, I want to enthusiastically add her to the middle grade list. Snicker is warm, funny, hopeful, and smart. Students who enjoy folktales, myths, and quirky small-town stories (along the lines of the equally endearing Three Times Lucky) will be in good hands with Ms. Lloyd.