While I was reading this report from the National Association of Scholars, I couldn’t help but think how an exemplary high school literacy and school library program should address the very goals the colleges feel is lacking. If reading with ‘low intellectual difficulty’ is the standard and content that covers a range of sociopolitical themes, the challenge is not so different from what we try to do at KSS every day. Ensuring these goals is problematic if school administration, curriculum and library programs cannot imagine a unified objective a vision that sounds awfully similar to high school appropriate liberal arts. With the emphasis on sciences in recent decades, the values and insights desired have been pushed further and further back. Add the overpowering wave of technology and media and it is no wonder our colleges have reacted with a freshman summer reading list. Sadly prescribing recommended titles in a list does nothing to address the resistant forces or motivations that impact high school grads during the summer. ( eg. working 50 hrs/week at $7/hr leaves little room for recreational or prescriptive reading) I aspire to the day when our teens recreational reading habits would complement their educational reality not interfere with it. It seems to me, what the colleges are asking for is reading as a lifestyle of a civilized society and where libraries are a common connecting thread with access for everyone not just freshman. Sigh! -Al Smith
Beach Books: What Do Colleges Want Students to Read Outside Class?
In the last decade, the number of colleges that assign summer reading to incoming freshmen has soared. The National Association of Scholars has tracked and analyzed 290 such programs—the most comprehensive study of “common reading” programs to date. The study reveals national patterns in book selection. Major findings include a widespread assignment of books that promote liberal political views; a preponderance of contemporary writing; and a surprisingly low level of intellectual difficulty.
The NAS recommends seven steps colleges can take to improve their book choices…..