Today I taught a group of elementary school students as described in my previous “tableaux” post. My drama work with this particular group was supposed to connect to literacy in some way, as is often the case. So when we got to the part where the students get in small groups to create a tableaux about a story they’ve heard or read, I found it disturbing how many of them simply could not think of a SINGLE book they had ever been familiar with. “Can’t we do a movie?” they asked. Sometimes I run into groups that have a really hard time deciding on a particular story everyone can agree on, but this group of kids could not even get that far.
When I was student teaching third grade I remember working with a Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood, and discovering when it came time to compare the two versions it became clear that less than half of the class knew the story. The nursery rhymes and fairy tales that I grew up with are simply not a part of a lot of kids’ childhoods these days. Maybe, as this article considers, books (per se) have less value in kids’ lives today. I think it’s sad that so many children are growing up without stories, and my lesson planning definitely has to be adjusted in light of this fact.