It seems that Contemporary Realistic Fiction (CRF) has always been around, providing readers with opportunities to find out how other people think and live. Middle School students are interested in the lives of others and how they deal with day-to-day situations in their lives, ordinary or extraordinary. Good CRF has believable characters, in-depth storylines, emotional highs and lows and above all a feeling of hope that keeps the reader turning the page. Teacher librarians respect the position CRF holds with Middle School readers and, resources the school library to keep them coming back for more.
I love reading contemporary realistic fiction, and always have. I grew up in a country town and I loved reading about other people, in other places, doing things that were far more exciting than I was.
My first "real" contemporary realistic fiction book was Homecoming by Cynthia Voight. I loved reading about Dicey and her siblings who were deserted by their mum in a carpark. The story wasn't about the mum, but about how courageous Dicey was to look after her siblings, to keep them safe and to get them somewhere where they would be looked after. At times, Dicey's situation was quite desperate, but they made it. I was glued to this book, reading and re-reading more than once.
I think contemporary realistic fiction is valuable to the library collection because it allows readers to become someone else for the duration of the book, it allows readers to live experiences, all be it vicariously, from the safety of their own lounge room and it provides opportunities for readers to develop their own identity. Above all, most are really enjoyable stories that kids will enjoy reading.
If I am ever asked which genre of books is my favourite, I always say that I love a good story. Could be fiction, could be non-fiction.
There is a lot of good contemporary realistic fiction available for readers today. It is the role of the teacher librarian to get those books into their collection and advocate, advocate, advocate and advertise that they are available for borrowing, give students a taste of what the story is about and encourage them to start reading. Reading for leisure is just as valuable as reading for skill development.
As I complete ETL402, I have developed a slight attraction to contemporary realistic fiction for students, often called Young Adult Fiction. May be more than a slight attraction. I am hooked, having read about 10 current titles in the last 6 weeks. I will tell you more in my next post.