You can find an excellent rant (actually several, if you read the prolific comments) on Shannon Hale's blog today, in response to a remarkably snooty and condescending opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ piece takes to task the "uninspired choices" on library summer reading lists (i.e. current fiction). The writer suggests a return to the classics, saying that (by offering lighter summer reading choices) "we're raising a generation of cereal-box readers." The piece basically disparages anything written in the past 100 years.
I'm personally of the opinion that there are some great classic books, and it's wonderful when kids find them and enjoy them. BUT the more important thing is that kids find books that they enjoy, and read those. Especially during the summer. The worst thing that can happen is for kids to be so turned off by the classics that they decide they hate reading.
I also think that there are a lot of perspectives that you find in children's books today that you couldn't find in the classics (multi-cultural viewpoints, children of alcoholics, protagonists with mental illness, etc.). This means that often individual kids will get more inspiration from some newer book than they ever would from "The Wind in the Willows" or "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."
Shannon says most of this and more, much more eloquently than I. Check out her remarks here.