This is an interesting read, about the idea of letting students choose what they want to read -- even comic books as middle-school-level "literature" vs. assigning them the "classics." The story does a good job of setting out the pros and cons.
In my view (not the story writer's) the disadvantage is an inevitable dumbing down of the classwork. But, on the plus side, at least they are reading something. If students are not reading at all in the assigned-book model, is that even worse than reading lower-grade material?
Students Get New Assignment: Pick Books You Like
NYT Week in Review Aug. 30, 2009