My father-in-law, Ira Bender, knew the answer. Although he's no longer with us, this story about his love for peach ice cream provides evidence that some kinds of choice are better than others.
Ira had specific requirements for his peach ice cream. It had to be freshly made, perfectly sweetened, and loaded with pieces of ripe, juicy peaches. Only one small ice cream place in Lenox, Massachusetts -- 10 miles from his house -- sold that very specific flavor during the summer months.
One hot summer day, our family was in a hurry to get somewhere, but Ira decided he first wanted to stop for ice cream. To get his beloved peach flavor would mean driving 10 miles in the opposite direction, which would make us even later. I suggested to Ira that we stop at an ice cream place that was on the way to our destination – a place that offered more than 30 flavors. Ira would have a lot of choice in that place. He could find something else he would like.
Ira smiled. He said that it wouldn't matter if the place offered 100 flavors – it didn't have peach ice cream, and that was the kind he wanted. The idea of a lot of choice wasn't enough for Ira. He needed it to be the right kind of choice. We drove 10 miles so Ira could enjoy a double scoop cone of his favorite flavor.
Reading programs may offer students the equivalent of 30 ice cream flavors. But if a student can’t find his or her favorite flavor, is that student being well-served? At Reading Plus, we know there are students who, like my father-in-law, have interests and tastes that fall outside the "Top 30" choices. That's why we offer a reading library that is wide and deep. By offering more than 1,100 reading selections, we ensure that every reader can find texts to satisfy his or her unique interests and tastes.
We don't just offer choice – we offer the right kind of choice. Why? Because when you offer students the right kind of choice, they discover a passion for reading that matches my father-in-law’s passion for peach ice cream.
What would you choose? Leave a comment below!