I'm not saying fiction isn't worth reading. I'm saying that it can be held for after hours pleasure reading. Frankly, I think this would increase the love of fiction. Here's this shelf of books that you can read when you finish your other work. You can take them home if you like. I think this would give them an aura of excitement. There are lots of people who have fiction forced on them and avoid it once they're out of school. My father would get passionate about his hatred of "The Return of the Native," which he was forced to read. Me, I read "The Return of the Native" and all of Thomas Hardy's novels on my own and loved them. Look at how kids read the Harry Potter books on their own. Put them outside of the classroom and let kids see them as a leisure treat.
In saying that, I don't mean to say they are just for fun and that there's nothing deep. I'm saying that reading fiction books is or should be intrinsically rewarding and that intrinsic reward is best felt when you are exercising free choice. And I also think that the depths in fiction are best absorbed in a free environment without an authority figure trying to lead you or tell you how to think. Much good fiction is about challenging authority, and I worry that authority figures will choose fiction that they approve of because it teaches the values they like. That's not my idea of how good fiction works.
Another thing I'm not saying is that we shouldn't have literature classes. I've been talking about reading classes, those learn-to-read sessions very young students have. Those students aren't delving into the subtleties of themes and language and so forth. I have no problem with literature classes that teach students how to analyze texts in some fairly deep way, as long as they don't destroy the pleasure and love of art. So perhaps literature classes should be elective.
Many of her commentators did exaggerate her argument (see especially the linkbacks at the bottom of the original post). She isn't condemning literature per se, just stating that it should be at best an optional study, and really ought to be reserved (like movies and television) as an enjoyable leisure activity -- no matter whether the book being read in by J. K. Rowling or Thomas Hardy.
What do you think?