While considering options for the assessment theme of this issue, the editors discussed multiple ways that books are being "used" with students to examine and assess their learning. We began to question the message that "using books" sends to students and policy makers about the purpose of books in the classroom. Of course we want teachers, parents, and librarians to build around books using authentic experiences with drama, art, or music, theses connections serve as a means to enhance our literary experiences. Nevertheless, we worry that significant, timeless, and downright enjoyable books have been used for the sole purpose of teaching literary devices like theme or point of view, or are watered down for comprehension questions during guided reading. As a profession, if we always use books to teach something else, never for aesthetic appreciation or pleasure, what will this mean for the lifelong readers we profess we are trying to create? We believe children’s literature can provide examples and support for teaching language arts standards, but quality books should not be overlooked because they don't meet a standard or align with scripted assessment protocols. For this issue of Language Arts, we shift the focus from “using books” to reading and responding to children’s books for enjoyment. For this column, we reviewed books that invite readers to create shared experiences around meeting new characters or going on new adventures. We have selected books that offer readers an opportunity to experience laughter, fear, hope, and excitement with no strings - or standards - attached.
Keywords: Elementary, Literature