2006 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee
NCTE has long recognized the importance of promoting a love of literature and reading in students, evidenced by its position statements such as “Supporting School and Community Libraries” (2005), “El día de los niños/El día de los libros” (2005), “Preparing and Certifying Teachers with Knowledge of Children’s and Adolescent Literature” (2001), and “Literature-Based Reading Instruction” (1988). Research findings affirm the crucial role of teachers in fostering interest in reading and literature through the use of trade books (Ayra et al., 2005; Galda & Cullinan, 2003; Hickman, 1981). This research also verifies the impact of using literature in the classroom on children’s language development, reading achievement, content learning, and writing. Furthermore, the NCTE/IRA Standards for the English Language Arts reiterate that educators must help children become lifelong readers, who read a variety of texts representing diverse experiences and perspectives for different purposes, including personal fulfillment. Recent trends in education, however, have made it nearly impossible for teachers to help inspire this appreciation in their students.
The current era of high-stakes testing has resulted in a narrowed curriculum in many schools, leaving little time or resources for extended interaction with literature. The Reading First Initiative of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 encourages the use of specific commercial reading programs, many of which make minimal use of authentic books. “Teachers are finding . . . that some of the mandated scripted programs are crowding out of the curriculum the time needed for reading aloud, independent reading of enjoyable and informational texts, writing, discussion, and in-depth exploration of literature” (NCTE position statement “On the Reading First Initiative,” 2002).
Additionally, reading incentive programs used in many schools emphasize earning points or prizes instead of reading for enjoyment or learning. Children’s literature experts argue that this use of extrinsic rewards does not foster the development of life-long readers (Lamme, 2003).
Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America (2004), a report by the National Endowment for the Arts, further emphasizes the critical need for helping to create a love of literature in students. This study reports a dramatic decline in literary and total book reading among all age groups, ethnic groups, sexes, and education levels. Of particular note is the finding that the 18-24 age group showed the steepest decline.
For additional background, refer to other NCTE policy statements, particularly “On Reading, Learning to Read, and Effective Reading Instruction: An Overview of What We Know and How We Know It” (2004). Be it therefore
Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English continue to affirm the
- value of reading and literature for appreciation, learning, and enjoyment;
- critical need of instilling in young people a love of literature and reading for its own sake;
- important and critical roles that children’s and young adult literature should play in the classroom; and
that NCTE recommend that
- reading curricula focus on selecting, reading, responding to, and analyzing a wide range of literature;
- a wide range of high-quality literature representing diverse experiences and perspectives be integrated into all content areas, including reading instruction;
- students engage in deep and extended experiences with full authentic texts rather than with adaptations; and
- students are guaranteed opportunities to select literature representing a variety of topics and degrees of difficulty.
This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.