CHS Rationale for Book Selections
At Clarkston High School we have tried to include a blend of traditional and contemporary classics for whole classroom study. In designing our units of instruction we use these texts to teach a variety of reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills that are in line with the State of Michigan's Content Standards. The state standards listed under Strand Three: Literature and Culture are as follows:
3.1 Develop the skills of close and contextual literary reading
3.2 Read and respond to classic and contemporary fiction, literary nonfiction, and expository text, from a variety of literary genres representing many time periods and authors (e.g. myth, epic, folklore, drama, poetry, autobiography, novels, short stories, philosophical pieces, science fiction, fantasy, young adult literature, creative non-fiction, hypertext fiction).
3.3 Use knowledge of literary history, traditions, and theory to respond to and analyze the meaning of texts.
3.4 Examine mass media, film, series fiction, and other texts from popular culture.
The following statements from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) reflect the philosophy of the CHS English Department with regard to the selection of literature for our curriculum:
In selecting books for reading by young people, English teachers consider the contribution which each work may make to the education of the reader, its aesthetic value, its honesty, its readability for a particular group of students, and its appeal to adolescents. English teachers, however, may use different works for different purposes. The criteria for choosing a work to be read by an entire class are somewhat different from the criteria for choosing works to be read by small groups.
English teachers must be free to employ books, classic or contemporary, which do not lie to the young about the perilous but wondrous times we live in, books which talk of the fears, hopes, joys, and frustrations people experience, books about people not only as they are but as they can be.
Respect for the uniqueness and potential of the individual, an important facet of the study of literature, should be emphasized in the English class.
We do our best to select books used as anchor texts and to select supplemental texts that will meet not only the state criteria, but also the expectations that we, as professional educators have for our students. The books are used to promote serious discussion of themes and relationships that exist in our world; this is one way students learn to use their speaking and listening skills in a social context. These books have been adopted by the Teaching and Learning Council and approved by the Board of Education. However, due to the very nature of some of these standards and the wide range of themes, issues, and language used to present them, occasional objections are made about these texts. "All books are potentially open to criticism in one or more general areas: the treatment of ideologies, of minorities, of love and sex; the use of language not acceptable to some people; the type of illustrations; the private life or political affiliations of the author or, in a few cases, the illustrator." (NCTE)
As English teachers we have been trained to facilitate such discussions in a fair and open manner that will help build confidence in our students' ability to engage maturely in public discourse.