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[Susan notes: Yes! I've never understood why schools make all kids read the same thing--something the teacher chose.

And look at one of the daily routines of this school:


Every day starts with 30 minutes of independent reading. Students may choose anything they like to read?the goal is to get them reading, and keep them reading. The principal has a book club for students who are interested, and teachers looking for a good book to read make their way to the school's well-equipped library - or to the principal's office, where one wall is lined with bins of books for students to borrow, and another with books for teachers.
]

Published in New York Times
06/14/2006

To the editor

David Brooks addresses a crucial point, that our boys and young men in school are often turned off as young readers because the books assigned them to read are not engaging them and turning them into readers.

But his solution assigning more "Hemingway, Tolstoy, Homer and Twain" is not the answer, especially for our country's struggling readers.

The answer is stocking our classrooms and school libraries with a variety of books that have characters, topics and issues that our young men can relate to, and then giving them time to choose the books they want to read and time in school to read them.

All adolescents, especially young men, are much more likely to become readers if they are given choices.

If other grown men and I are able to browse airport bookstores for the books we want to read, shouldn't we afford our young men the same opportunity in their classrooms?

Mr. Brooks is right that the brain research shows that gender matters. The literacy research shows that choice matters.


The writer is principal of East Side Community High School.

Mark Felderman


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