Teachers and their union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), have voiced opposition to the move, announced by Mr Russell as a way to ensure children learn about the nation's "literary tradition" and inspire "future generations of Scottish writers".
Allan Crosbie, a principal teacher of English in Edinburgh, has written an open letter to Mr Russell calling the decision an example of "flawed educational thinking".
He wrote: "I want to believe that your decision was made for the best of motives but it will end up doing the opposite of what was intended. Instead of opening up the diversity of Scottish literature to our pupils, instead of enriching their learning and broadening their opportunities as writers, it will close them off and narrow them; instead of liberating teachers to make their own choices based on their knowledge of the pupils in front of them, it will shackle us."
In further letter published in The Herald today, Mr Crosbie argues that the directive is a means of controlling teachers rather than enhancing pupils' learning.
Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary, also in a letter to today's Herald, criticises Mr Russell for not consulting English teachers on his proposal.