NOTE: The No Child Left Behind Summer Reading Achievers Pilot Program offers deeply flawed booklists to parents and children. After diligent librarians and teachers in North Carolina and New York City alerted me to the flaws, I joined them in revealing even more flaws. The goofy government lists can be found on this site at:
Here is my note to the U. S. Department of Education and their response--which came VERY quickly.
From: Susan Ohanian [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 5:52 PM
Subject: book lists
I understand you have something to do with the disreputable booklists issued by the U. S. Department of Education. I worked on correcting some of the errors.
As a longtime teacher I am appalled that your department thinks so little of parents, teachers, and children as to issue such documents.
Even if the listmakers had managed to get authors and titles listed correctly, their lists are of VERY poor quality.
Think about it:
1) What child would want to read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on his summer vacation?
2. Why would the list contain out-of-print books?
3. Why do the lists contain so few titles published after 1990? As a child I loved both "Little Women" and "The Secret Garden." I would not recommend them to children at large. Yes, I might recommend them to a child I knew well. But to stick an unknown child with these tomes is worse than silly; it's harmful. You just further convince that child that books hold nothing he wants.
I hope you don't simply correct the list. That's easy. What you need to do is destroy it.
From: John McGrath
Thanks for your note. I appreciate your concern. The reading list has been removed from the website and will not replaced before both the book choices and the editorial content have been thoroughly checked and reviewed. Please understand that the posting of this flawed list -- while it was indeed a serious error -- does not reflect a disrespect for the people the Department serves.
Again, thanks for your thoughtful comments. We'll keep them in mind as we move forward.
Office of Intergovernmental & Interagency Affairs
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202
Phone: (202) 401-1309