Common Core recommended that 50 percent of the books elementary students read and study should be nonfiction. And in high school, students should be reading 70 percent nonfiction. But I’m not sure those percentages make sense developmentally.
Young children are naturally curious about the world around them. They want to explore and understand EVERYTHING. If you think about it, that’s their job—to soak up information about the world like sponges. And nonfiction can help them do that.
But teens are different. Their number one priority is to find their own place in the world. And novels are often better at helping them achieve that goal. Reading MG and YA fiction allows young people to put themselves in the shoes of the characters and see how they deal with the obstacles in their lives, how they navigate the world.
So while I believe students of all ages should read what they want to read in their free time, perhaps the Common Core percentages should be flip-flopped when it comes to reading instruction—70 percent nonfiction in elementary school and 50 percent high school. That would still allow young people to be ready for college and the workforce, but it would also allow individual teens to discover the person they want to be.
What do you think?