What should middle school readers read? Children's books? Young adult novels? Adult literature?
Depends on the reader.
My own collection (And really, isn't it? I pick out all the books and decide what stays and goes.) is varied but apparently skews young. Not that my students are reading nothing but Beverly Cleary (her books for younger readers don't circulate much), but I don't have many "young adult" and fewer "adult" titles (most are "classics" like Vanity Fair and Last of the Mohicans that I am slowly weeding). At high school curriculum night last night, another middle school librarian and parent mentioned that she thought high schoolers should read adult fiction, and middle school students young adult. I disagreed.
Is it because I had a child capable of reading Harry Potter at age 6, but didn't want him to miss Magic Treehouse and Morris the Moose? Is it because I wasn't allowed to check out adult books from the library until I was 17? Is it because "young adult" has become so edgy, i.e. filled with sex and profanity?
Perhaps what forms my opinion most is my feeling that we push children to read far above their interest levels. Certainly, if a 6th grader really wants to read The Hobbit, she should. But I weary of students who tell me that their reading level is "so high" and they only like to read "big books" and parents who want to "challenge their students". These students don't seem to be as excited about books as the students who read I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You or Stormbreaker.
Any opinions? I will spend the day doubting my methods and efficacy, which is a good big dose of humble.