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Why do people complain about free reading?

A teen-aged girl to her brother, overheard in a hotel lobby while vacationing in Germany: “Is Pride and Prejudice as bad as the beginning?”

The brother’s response: “Why would I read Pride and Prejudice? That’s a girl book.”

These are teenagers stuck in assigned, required summer reading.

Just a week after Time Magazine proposed an end to summer vacation to counteract summer learning loss, particularly for low-income students, The New York Times reported yesterday that free reading in the summer helps students and their reading scores.

Nevertheless, the debate continues about whether adults should allow students to read freely. To some people, giving young people choice will somehow prevent them from getting into a good college.

In no way do I dispute the merits of challenging reading, and in addition to The 1,000,000 Word Challenge, I plan to assign my students this year plenty of difficult, rich texts.

But there is no way that a student will enjoy reading and read a lot without being able to read what he or she chooses. 

Please share your brilliant insights!