The Revolutionary Role of Readers' Advisory

"Books must differ as widely as the needs of the individual students. Some are intended to awaken a taste for reading in those who have never read for pleasure. Others are to bridge the gap between trash and good literature...Still others are to stimulate thought, to inspire a worthy view of life, to arouse ambition."

From Report of the Committee on Home Reading, prepared by NCTE's Committee on Home Reading


In 1911, the National Council of Teachers of English primarily formed because of the undue influence of college entrance requirements on English education. These requirements often included a required reading list of books selected by a college board. These lists, however, differed from year to year and from college to college. To prepare their students for college, English teachers were forced to try to form their curricula based on these wildly diverging lists that often did not hold the interest of their students.


In 1913, NCTE published its own list of recommended reading, The Report of the Committee on Home Reading, which would go on to sell over a 400,000 copies. By creating its own list of recommendations, NCTE successfully diluted the influence of college boards and their lists of required reading. In J.N. Hook's A Long Way Together: A Personal View of NCTE's First Sixty-Seven Years, NCTE Past President E.H. Kemper McComb explains:

"After the reading list, and its revisions, came out, no one in the Council worried about ‘college boards,' because an immediate result of the lists was that college entrance requirements were liberalized. The Council took no credit for this, but there is no question that the Council lists assisted in the liberalization of the requirements." (1979, p. 25)

Today, NCTE continues to publish reading recommendations, which has expanded to multiple reading advisory series for different grade levels. To learn more, take a look at the featured records below.


Contents:(To enlarge an image, click on it and it will open in a new window)


Report of the Committee on Home Reading

Good Reading

Books for You

Your Reading

Adventuring with Books

High Interest, Easy Reading


Report of the Committee on Home Reading


The first recommended reading list published by NCTE, The Report of the Committee on Home Reading, helped the Council end the strict and inconsistent required reading lists set by college boards. Also known as A List of Books for Home Reading, this book was intended for college-bound high school students. The Committee on Home Reading, chaired by Herbert Bates, prepared the list.


Item: First edition of The Report of the Committee on Home Reading (1913)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/73/803


                          

The cover and first few pages of the Report. The first page explains how the committee selected books, while pages four and five discuss how this book is to be used, emphasizing NCTE's concern of considering the needs of the individual reader.


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Good Reading


In 1933, NCTE's Committee on College Reading began to publish its own series of reading lists called Good Reading for college students, selecting literary classics considered essential for college students to know. The Students' Guide to Good Reading was the first edition. The Committee on College Reading continued to print Good Reading until the late 1960s.


Item: First edition of Students' Guide to Good Reading (1933)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/73/802


  

The foreword of the Students' Guide to Good Reading explains the general organization of the book. Pages 22 and 23 illustrate the structure of reading annotations, with the theme for this section being the 19th century.


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Books for You


Books for You is another series focused on high school students. Instead of explicitly preparing students for college, the goal of this series is to encourage students to read for pleasure. First published in 1945, Books for You lists books according to subjects, as illustrated below in the table of contents. Later editions include subjects such as "Adventure and Survival," "Drama and Theater," "Family Conflicts," "Poetry," "Social Situations," and "The West."


Item: First edition of Books for You (1945)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/71/813


                                        

The front and back cover of the first edition of Books for You, along with the preface and table of contents. The preface emphasizes NCTE's mission to encourage high school students to read for recreation.


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Your Reading


Your Reading is one of the first reading advisory series to focus exclusively on junior high students. Published by NCTE and its Committee on the Junior High and Middle School Booklist, Your Reading is meant to encourage students to read quality literature, organizing suggestions under subjects such as "Adventure," "Physical Handicaps," "The Supernatural," "History and Government," and "Places and People of the World."


Item: First edition of Your Reading (1946)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/73/818


The cover and pages from the first edition of Your Reading, which suggests books on a diverse range of subjects. Pages 30 and 31 illustrate the annotations for fiction, while pages 50 and 51 show NCTE's selections for nonfiction books.


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Adventuring with Books


Adventuring with Books is one of the first reading advisory series to focus exclusively on elementary students. This series is targeted toward teachers, librarians, and media specialists in order to help guide them in selecting books for the library and classroom. These books are organized according to age level and genre.


Item: First edition of Adventuring with Books (1950)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/73/812


   

The cover and pages of Adventuring with Books. The preface explains the general structure of the books. Pages 18 and 19 illustrate the typical book annotations and grade level recommendations one can find in this volume.


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High Interest, Easy Reading


Since 1965, High Interest, Easy Reading has encouraged relunctant readers in junior high and high school to read by selecting books for their entertainment value, as well as for their literary value. As with almost all NCTE reading advisory books, selected books are arranged by subjects, such as "adventure," "history," "trivia," and "fantasy."


Item: First edition of High Interest, Easy Reading (1965)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/73/811


                                      

The cover and pages of High Interest, Easy Reading. The preface includes a section on facts and specific teaching strategies for "relunctant readers." Page five illustrates the typical organization of reading annotations, including separate grade ranges for reading level and interest level.


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