Boston — Whatever happened to reading lists? Whatever it was, they've disappered and that's not good for schools or for scholars.
Even first graders can be expected to spend some time during vacations reading a certain number of books. Best of all would be for schools to have books that first graders themselves have written and assembled, and expect other first graders to check these out one or two at a time and read them through.
But it's students in junior and senior high schools who are particularly in need of reading lists.
These young students need to know what books are "best," and which are written at their level.
They need to have a complete diet -- including biographies, poetry, plays, fiction, and essays.
They need to read some of the important classics -- those books which contain references used by all literate men and women.
While it may not be appropriate to assign Bible selections during school class sessions, certainly one of the more recognized translations should be on every reading list with some direction to one section or another depending on the reading level of the students.
Mythology should have its day; so should what are known as children's classics.
SChoolteachers and administrators might well argue that parents should be the ones, particularly during vacations, to direct their own children's reading. But even the most literate and book-knowledgable parents welcome some direction from the school.
And after all, it is assumed that schools have a reason for asking their pupils to read certain books at specific stages of their development.
Certainly, where every week there are new pupils joining a school, where many of the children come from another culture, where younsters are just beginning to read with moderate skill -- the reading list is one of the kindest helps a school can offer a struggling student.
We know of one college president who invited junior and senior high school students to come to the college campus each Saturday to listen to her read from a classic.
Of course, she chose those passages which were colorful and dramatic, lending themselves to oral presentation. Then at a key point she stopped, letting the youngsters know that were extra copies for those who wanted to continue on their own.
And the following week she started the Saturday session by talking over the book choice of the week before.
We know of another teacher who piled several hundred excellent children's fiction books in the trunk of her car each summer and would offer on nice days to read a story in the local park.
She, too, would stop short of reading the climax, and then would offer to let any of the children who wished take one of the books to have overnight and meet back in the same place, same time, the following day to give the books back and hear another story.
One of her lists was headed: "For girls under 14 who are crazy about horses." Another: "For boys who love adventure stories." And so on, each list progressing in sophistication, language structure, and vocabulary.
Schoolteachers: Don't let children leave for vaca tion without a reading list -- please.
Next week: A teacher's reading list