The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

S’il vous plait

on March 28, 2019

First of all, I want to thank the newspaper “Junior Scholastic” for inviting me to present my opinions about teaching reading. Katherine Willmore was the one who asked me to write for a regular feature called “Yes and No” that offers two different opinions about what is right in a certain situation. That feature pushes young readers to think about both sides of an issue and decide which one is more valid.

Please understand that I am not talking about drowning children in textbooks. My classrooms were more like a library, with new books poring in regularly from the school library and me reading aloud just enough from those books to make students want to read the rest themselves. Of course those were the “good old days” when teachers were not bound to a fixed curriculum or students to yearly testing. Although those days have passed with public schools now tied to the“ Common Core” expectations, I still believe that wide reading is the key to student success and satisfaction. Despite the rigidity of today’s school requirements and the pressure they put on the shoulders of teachers and students, I feel there is enough time and space in a classroom for students to do what is expected and still be able to read what interests them. They should also able to talk with classmates about what they’ve read,   and teachers should be free to persuade their students to move beyond mediocrity by becoming dedicated readers.

The topic I was asked to write about was whether or not students should be allowed to read books of their own choosing or only the high quality literature their teachers selected. I was very pleased to be invited to take the ”yes” point of view, because it was my belief as a teacher that all students should have a broad experience in reading in order to become skilled readers and well educated adults.  I also feared that some students would dislike reading altogether if all they got was high class literature.

Unfortunately, my own strong feelings and opinions took over my attempts to write for Scholastic. Although I submitted three pieces over time as I tried trying to please Scholastic ,they were all rejected because my opinions did not allow for a “No” argument. I couldn’t get myself to say that there were good reasons why teachers should teach only high quality literature. After all, many students would never find those kinds of books at home or with their friends and that would be a serious mistake in their lives.

And so I missed the opportunity to become a writer for Scholastic.  Having explained my foolishness, I will now give you the opportunity to see what I did write for them, so it will not have been written in vein. I’m sure some of you will pity me and insist it is a good piece and should have been published.  


 Over the Many years I was a teacher, and later a school principal, having students become dedicated readers was my goal. Yes, I also wanted them to do well in writing, math, and science, but I believed that reading was the skill that would help them get there.

One response to “S’il vous plait

  1. Randy says:

    The assignment from Scholastic was ill conceived. Teachers encouraging students to read great literature and students selecting what they want to read is not an either/or, it is a both/and. Why must we always create false dichotomies?


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