Warren Adler Common Core Fiction in Reading Lists

Should We Be Shrinking Fiction in America’s Common Core Reading Lists?

As a novelist I never realized how much skin in the game I had in terms of the Common Core curriculum. Only recently did I discover that fiction, according to common core, is being shrunk in favor of non-fiction. After reading a telling New York Times article that gives an in-depth overview of how non-fiction is coming to occupy a heftier portion of k-12 reading curriculum I went on to review Scholastic’s complete Common Core for Teachers Book Lists and was surprised to find that the selection of non-fiction books does in fact more than double the number of fiction books offered.

There is nothing wrong with providing young students with more access to non-fiction and its many manifestations that include all the documentation of historical facts, biography, science, government, analysis, travel, real life adventure and anything else in this category. Any scrap of informational reading is absolutely essential to a well-rounded education and deserves a prominent place in the education of young minds, but not at the expense of fiction.

Works of the imagination, of which fellow authors and I are proud dispensers, is not only essential material for a well-rounded curriculum, it is crucial. In fact, it should be expanded. Imagination, in my view, often trumps information and hard scholarship.

Fiction, Imagination, Education

Fiction provides the soul of education, without which students cannot truly attain a deep understanding of what makes us human. Life, past and present, is a story, our story, and it springs from the imagination of those who have dug deep into this mysterious well of truth to speak to us, inform us of the joys, perils and insights of the human experience.

What has trickled through the screen of life over the centuries and has given us our essential stories contains the critical guideposts of the human condition.

It is no accident that the works of our greatest writers, from the stories illustrated without words on cave walls to those who anonymously penned our earliest myths and fables and on to those works of such named authors as Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Fitzgerald, Hemingway and many others who reside in the vast repertoire composed by creative authors in all parts of the world has endured through the centuries.

Within these works resides truth and wisdom plumbed from the imagination, without which we would be bereft of true meaning, our internal life impoverished. The connection between the written word and the mysterious workings of the brain that miraculously spins those fictional stories in the minds of their authors has had a profound impact on civilization and is far more important than our technologically obsessed authorities realize.

The Connection Between Fiction and Well-Being 

Literacy is the foundation stone of teaching. To get people to read fiction is essential to their well being, their knowledge, their livelihood, their relationships, their ability to communicate and to share their thoughts and aspirations. Without such literacy a human being in the modern world lives isolated in the shadows.

Why not celebrate and honor the art of fiction, a construct which subliminally asks the quintessential question of human existence, which is “What happens next?”

Of course non-fiction has its place but the truth and wisdom embodied in fiction is of equal if not paramount importance to equip a student to shoulder the burdens and complications of an increasingly complex world.

CLICK TO TWEET: Fiction provides the soul of education, without which students cannot truly attain a deep understanding of what makes us human

CLICK TO TWEET: The truth and wisdom embodied in fiction is of paramount importance to equip a student to shoulder the burdens of a complex world