And this applies to adults too.
When I was a kid, one day the literature teacher asked us to mention what book we had recently read. When my turn came, I was glad to say I had read “The Lost World” by Arthur Conan Doyle.
The teacher, however, had a bored reaction, “So what was that about? Aliens? Dinosaurs?” I felt disapproval from her part as if I had said I had read Snow White. She also had a mocking attitude about a girl who had read a telenovela-like book.
Instead, she praised those who said they’d read the book she had recommended before summer break. That book was about a boy and his multiple intimate, promiscuous relationships with girls.
My reaction to this discovery?
What’s wrong about me being fascinated by books with dinosaurs and what’s so good about reading a womanizer’s adventures? I mean, I, as a girl, why would I want to read about a boy treating girls as pleasure toys?
It was enough I had to read, in school, books about the tragedy of life, unhappy marriages, brainless women and abusive men (the books studied in schools may differ from region to region but that’s what I got to read from middle school to high school).
Why shouldn’t someone read what he or she wants to?
To be honest, because of this attitude in schools, for a while I hated reading. It became a burden and before discovering how many good ebooks were in online stores, I thought I would just take a long break from reading. The teachers’ recommendations were only disasters to me and they made me think that 99% of the books considered of value in the world are just a blend of everything that would make me feel depressed, while what I liked to read was worthless and stupid.
So, if you want to make students give up on reading, tell them to read only what you consider valuable. But if you want to encourage reading, tell them to find the genre and the books they like.
Books are, almost, like any other kind of entertainment. You like pop-rock then you will search for that kind of music. Forcing yourself to listen to, say, classic music for a long while won’t make you love it. You will probably give up on listening to music. You like action-adventure movies then would you watch only melodramas, because they are valuable?
I know that books which depict real life experiences are considered of high value. It’s good to read them but then why is wrong to also read what you like? Why not let the books you read represent you, your true personality?
Now, as a grown-up, I really don’t judge anyone for their preferences. I like fantasy, I read fantasy and I write fantasy. And I find no problem in that.