9.6.15

THE ADULTS ARE PROJECTING THEIR PREFERENCES.

The College Fix has picked up the story of Northern Illinois University research alleging insufficient "diversity" in children's books.  The article finds a Slate commentary suggesting that perhaps "relatability" is over-rated as a reason to enjoying a story.  And there's a crusader for "diverse books" upset that no picture book featured "two gay grannies."  (Perhaps the culture warriors took the wrong tack some twenty years ago: it's not the subversion of traditional values that's wrong with Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy's Roommate, it's the excessive preachiness of the stories.  Compilers of Bible stories for fundamentalist churches might do better at writing for kids than do activist writers.  I leave it to the reader to contrast choice among Sunday schools with compulsory common schools in influencing the readability of stories.)

Fortunately, Scholastic (there's a stroll down memory lane) asked the kids what made for a good story.
The majority of kids ages 6–17 (70%) say they want books that “make me laugh.” Kids also want books that “let me use my imagination” (54%), “tell a made-up story” (48%), “have characters I wish I could be like because they’re smart, strong or brave” (43%), “teach me something new” (43%) and “have a mystery or a problem to solve” (41%).
And nine of ten readers name as their favorites a book they picked out themselves.  Does it come as a surprise that a school board decreeing "read this, it's good for you" will be any more successful than a parent urging, "eat this, it's good for you?"

Give the kids agency.  And if you really want to introduce the post-modern sensibilities, let the kids use their imagination.

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