An interesting conversation is beginning to take shape on the English Companion Ning relevant to yesterday’s piece in the NY Times about providing choice to student readers. I was surprised (and kind of saddened) that this approach was touted as the “future of reading” and that it was contrasted so sharply with other forms of literature study.

I don’t know many teachers who sacrifice depth of questioning or comprehension instruction in order to provide readers choice. Does it have to be an either/or proposition, and more importantly, what is the purpose of presenting it this way? I’m wondering how the teachers that I work with might feel about this piece……..particularly those who have studied how providing choice to readers has effected their motivation to read as well as their performance.



  1. I know what you mean. In practice, I almost always have students study the same book. I do literature circles sometimes, but I find whole class study of a novel or work to be a good practice. You’re right—it doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition. I would be interested in your colleagues’ thoughts, too. How did providing choice affect motivation and performance?

  2. In my own experience, choice motivated kids to read more, and when I used workshop in the classroom, helping them identify who they were as readers and giving them strategies to find books that they were interested in reading was an important part of that work. We focused on supporting comprehension as well though, and the independent/choice-based reading that kids did supported texts we studied as a full class or through lit circles.

    I also facilitated a grant-funded action-research study on motivating at-risk readers, and we found that choice played a tremendous role in sustaining their desire to read.

    I shot this out on Twitter Dana–it would be great to get some different perspectives here. Thanks for stopping by too : )

  3. Mike Waiksnis Reply

    I think choice is essential–we need to first build readers who read for enjoyment. I know I would not be a reader if I was never able to choose what I read.

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