Middle class white parents seem to have a good hang on introducing their children to reading at a very early age, however, the push dwindles by the time these children get reading assignments from schools and by high schools, students who grew up reading, report not liking reading any longer.
High school English classes seem to have a way of ruining reading for students who had come in enjoying reading, and having a further repulsing effect on the students who never got in the reading habit to begin with.
Parents and teachers cater to children’s reading level and interest throughout their childhood but right around high school, that catering ceases and students are forced to make a leap from leisure and interest-fitting reading to canonical literature, without much of a transition.
Thank God for trashy books about sex power and murder. If I hadn’t read any Harold Robbins and Sydney Sheldon, I most definitely would have never become a reader, let alone a writer. Had I never discovered that guilty pleasure literature, it would have entirely been on the Catcher in the Rye to get me back into reading.
I enjoyed The Catcher in The Rye for it’s personal and conversational tone (I up to that point had never read a book that starts out by addressing the reader). Also, I was a fourteen year old reading about a sixteen year old– very relatable. I did seek books with those qualities in the Young Adult section and found some that I very much enjoyed. But that was me– I’m sure that I didn’t have many friends helped my readership a ton.
Things are a lot different now, young adult fiction being highly successful with the advents of Harry Potter and Twilight series but the at risk minority students are not influenced by this literary trend as white children are.
One wonders, would we have even more reading teens if young adult is incorporated into English class curriculum, particularly young adult that can attract those minorities by reflecting their discourse communities? With the big choice in YA titles aren’t there any books that student’s interest and teachers critical thinking pedagogy can coincide or compromise?
One thing is for sure– canonical texts haven’t created young readers.