When I was in high school I thought English teachers scoured library shelves to find the worst possible books to assign. The only thing I remember enjoying back then was Cantebury Tales. And, it wasn't that my teachers weren't engaging and talented, because they were great. But, memorizing passages from Shakespeare or reading Ethan Frome was just not for me.
As a teacher, I remember being thrilled to see my students walking around with books I had recently read and enjoyed. I was so happy to see them reading contemporary literature and I enjoyed discussing these books with them and getting their recommendations for books I had not yet read. I loved seeing them read, on their own, books by authors of required reading. I loved seeing reading being back in vogue by many students, not just honor students. I even enjoyed seeing them read classics and, after a glowing recommendation, went out and got copies of The Great Gatsby and To Kill A Mockingbird, two books around for years that I never read.
Fiction brings made up stories to life. I have always loved historical fiction and now, with my I-pad or Nook, I fact check and explore things I have read. I google places I have never been. Reading fiction has widened my world in a way reading non fiction (books I usually don't read) never could.
I was saddened to see fiction, except for a small splattering of books, will no longer be part of the ELA curriculum. Removing them deprives students of a meaningful learning experience. This common core curriculum was thought of by people with no common sense.