Earlier this month, The Washington Post published an article titled “Common core sparks war over words,” in which it worries that the adoption of the Common Core State Standards in English (by 46 states & DC, to date) will lead to fewer novels being read in school. The Common Core emphasizes the value of “informational text” (essentially non-fiction) across the curriculum. However, this is sparking debate over whether trying to adhere to these standards will lead to less time being made available in English classrooms for such things as novels and poetry.
I understand the importance of creating functional literacy– can kids read a railway timetable? a newspaper? an informational report?– and I know that not all of them will turn out to be readers– some kids even hate reading– and dread heading into “literature” units… however, I would just like to say a few quick words in defense of fiction:
For me, novels made history immediate and vocabulary automatic. “Light” books gave me other worlds to go to when I needed to get my head out of this one. “Heavy” books taught me many lifetimes-worth of empathy that served me in good stead when I came back. Poetry made my soul sing.
Dear English teachers everywhere, for all the kids out there who are like me, please keep fiction.