- Teachers select literary texts for use in their classrooms
based on many criteria. The teachers in this workshop video
ask themselves the following questions as they consider
literature for their classrooms:
- Is the plot engaging for students? Can the students
make sense of the conflicts and characters presented?
- Are the characters engaging, imaginable, and adequately
developed to understand them?
- Will the text make students think about their own
lives, the world in which they live, and their roles
in it, or about things they might become interested
- Does the text have literary merit? Will it be gripping,
memorable, or connect to something else students will
- Can the students see themselves in the literature?
- Do the texts represent a variety of cultures and
genders in an authentic way?
- Do the texts expose students to ways of life they
may not know from personal experience?
- Does the body of literature appeal to a range of
- Does the body of literature introduce both contemporary
and classical works?
- Does the body of literature include a variety of
- Does the literature present many layers of meaning?
- It is important to give students the opportunity to select
texts for themselves and to help them learn how to choose.
- Middle school students enjoy reading literature that features
characters their own age, coping with adolescent conflicts.
This includes some classics and many contemporary, young
- Teachers need to be aware of what their students are reading,
both for literary merit and for appropriateness for the
classroom and school community.
- Many classical literature selections are appropriate for
middle school students and can be paired with contemporary
- Teachers should encourage students to select a range of
literature, including texts that are easy reads, ones that
are just right for them, and ones that challenge them.
- Reading books aloud in the classroom is a powerful tool.
Reading aloud helps teachers reach a broad range of reading
abilities and turn kids on to books they may not have explored
on their own.
- Literature that is appropriate for reading aloud includes
texts with compelling stories, interesting language, and
- Teachers have a responsibility to help students find themselves
in literature. Students should be able to find themselves
in gender, culture, and in the characters' lives and dilemmas.
- Teachers can learn about great literature that appeals
to their students through the National Council of Teachers
of English English Journal and Voices from the
Middle, colleagues, professional conferences, and students
in their classrooms.