Should We Ban Fiction Books from Schools?

By Caroline Cournoyer — December 20, 2010 1 min read
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In a New York Daily News article, William Brozo and Richard Whitmire bring the issue of boys lagging literacy skills to light.

They note that according to a recent Center for Education Policy report, boys trail behind girls in literacy skills in 40 states. This trend was also evident in the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results released earlier this month, they say, which found that girls around the world surpass boys in reading skills by 39 points.

“We’re living through a fundamental international failure of schools and parents to engage boys in literacy skills,” write Brozo and Whitmire. To fix this, they suggest making reading more enjoyable for boys. But what do boys like to read?

ASCD blogger and president of an education consulting firm Grant Wiggins says it’s not fiction books. In fact, he thinks schools should ban most fiction books from the curriculum altogether because they don’t prepare students for the future, when the bulk of the reading they’ll do as adults is non-fiction. And, he says, fiction bores boys.

“I recall with horror having to read Jane Austen and Nathaniel Hawthorne as a student,” Wiggins says. “Worse, look at current favorites in younger grades, such as Sarah Plain and Tall: utterly boring, with no action and endless overly-fine detail for page after page.”

With books like this, he says, it is easy to see how boys have become uninterested in reading.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.